PIE&G March 2021

Page 1

March/April 2021


COUNTRY LINES Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op


Tackling Commercial

Fishing With Massey Fish Co.

PIE&G Announces Fiber Project

Moran Iron Works Meets International Challenge Why Your Co-op Clears Vegetation


Clean Start Rebate For a limited time, you can save up to $1,250 on clean energy geothermal heat pumps

Switch to geothermal and get a clean start to the year! This year everyone deserves a clean start! Switching to geothermal is the perfect decision to help your house be as comfortable and environmentally friendly as possible for years to come. The WaterFurnace Clean Start Rebate Program makes switching to geothermal an even smarter decision. For a limited time, you can save up to $1,250 and receive a free Amazon Echo Dot with the purchase of our most efficient, comfortable, and technologically advanced 7 and 5 Series geothermal heat pumps and accessories. But hurry, this deal ends April 30th, 2021, so contact your local WaterFurnace dealer today!





Amazon Echo Dot






26% Tax Credit


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Caro Kozy Home Htg & Clg (989) 673-4328 geo4less.com

Indian River M & M Plmb & Htg (231) 238-7201 mm-plumbing.com

Mt Pleasant Walton Htg & Clg (989) 772-4822 waltonheating.com

Clifford Orton Refrig & Htg (989) 761-7691 sanduskygeothermal.com

Mancelona Top Notch Htg, Clg, & Geothermal (231) 350-8052 topnotchheatandair.com

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

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

Michigan Center Comfort 1/Aire Serv of Southern Michigan (517) 764-1500 aireserv.com/ southern-michigan

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

Sunfield Mark Woodman Plmb & Htg (517) 886-1138 mwphonline.com Traverse City D & W Mechanical (231) 941-1215 dwgeothermal.com Geofurnace Htg & Clg (231) 943-1000 watergeofurnace.com

waterfurnace.com/CleanStart 1. 26% through 2022 and 22% through 2023. 2. With registration of homeowner’s Symphony Home Comfort Platform. Amazon Dot will be shipped to the address given in Symphony registration. Promotion available February 8th through April 30th, 2021 and only to residential customers through participating dealers. WaterFurnace is a registered trademark of WaterFurnace International, Inc.

Contents countrylines.com

March 2021 Vol. 41, No. 3



Michigan’s Electric Cooperatives EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Casey Clark EDITOR: Christine Dorr GRAPHIC DESIGNER: Karreen Bird 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 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.

Cover photo: Donny Massey holding a beautiful lake trout, one of the many species of fish harvested by Massey Fish Co.

6 EFFICIENT OUTDOOR LIGHTING TIPS Let us help you shine a light on the best home and yard illumination options. 10 MI CO-OP KITCHEN Soups: Cozy and satisfying, these recipes are the answer to your dinnertime dilemma.


14 TACKLING COMMERCIAL FISHING For Massey Fish Co. in St. Ignace, the embrace of changing technology and a love for nature are the keys to success. 18 GUEST COLUMN There’s magic in a frog pond.


An icy-cold night rainbow in downtown #charlevoix @tpmann4msu (Thomas Mann)

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





Up Next: Fruity Desserts, Whole Grains, and Fish & Seafood Share your favorite recipes.

Up Next: Coffee Shops Spill the beans! Tell us about your favorite place to grab a caffeinated (or decaf) beverage.

Submit your fondest memories and stories.

Enter a drawing to identify the correct location of the photo.

Win $150 for stories published!

Win a $50 bill credit!

Win a $50 bill credit!

See page 18



pieg.com /PIEGCooperative/ BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Charles Arbour, Treasurer 23899 M32 S, Hillman MI 49746 989-657-4358 • Term Expires: 2023

Allan Berg, Chairman 1117 E. Heythaler Hwy., Rogers City, MI 49779 989-734-0044 • Term Expires 2023 Sandy Borowicz, Secretary 5341 Carlson Rd.,Cheboygan, MI 49721 231-627-9220 • Term Expires 2021

John Brown 21 W. Devereaux Lake Rd., Indian River, MI 49749 231-625-2099 • Term Expires 2023 Sally Knopf 1849 W. 638 Hwy., Rogers City, MI 49779 989-734-4196 • Term Expires 2021 Kurt Krajniak , Vice-Chairman 7630 Wallace Rd., Alpena, MI 49707 989-884-3037 • Term Expires 2022 Brentt Lucas 15841 Carr Rd., Posen, MI 49776 989-766-3678 • Term Expires 2022 Daryl Peterson P.O. Box 54, Hillman, MI 49746 989-742-3145 • Term Expires 2021 Raymond Wozniak 6737 State St., Posen, MI 49776 989-766-2498 • Term Expires 2022

President & CEO: Thomas J. Sobeck tsobeck@pieg.com

Communications Director/Co-op Editor: Maire Chagnon-Hazelman Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op 19831 M-68 Hwy., P.O. Box 308 Onaway, MI 49765

Business Office & Billing: 989-733-8515 Toll-Free: 800-423-6634 Gas Emergency Toll-Free: 800-655-8565 PIE&G natural gas rates and charges are not regulated by the Michigan Public Service Commission. Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op is an equal opportunity provider and employer.





4 MARCH 2021



Your Board In Action At its most recent meetings, the PIE&G Board of Directors: • Authorized the creation of a Fiber-To-The-Home (FTTH) broadband division within the cooperative’s current business structure. • Authorized the CEO to execute agreements with Conexon for fiber design, project management, and marketing services. • Accepted team reports of CFO Stempky, Director of Electric Operations Chaskey, Director of Gas Operations, Safety & Fleet Karsten, Director of Information Systems Kieliszewski, Director of Administration and Controller Cryderman, Director of Communications and Member Services ChagnonHazelman, Director of Broadband Operations Largent, and CEO Sobeck. • Authorized quarterly write-offs for an uncollectible debt of $19,999.70. • Acknowledged by resolution the service of retiring employee Donald Schlaufman. • Approved the next Member Regulation Special Board Meeting date for March 23, 2021, at 9 a.m.

Notice to Members of Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op A special board meeting is set for March 23, 9 a.m., at the cooperative’s Onaway office* The board of directors will consider changes to the cooperative’s rates and tariffs at its special meeting on March 23, 2021, to be held at 19831 M-68 Highway, Onaway, Michigan. The meeting will start at 9 a.m. and is open to all members of Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op. The session will begin with an opportunity for members to provide direct input to the board of directors. Members are asked to call the cooperative one week prior to the meeting if they wish to attend virtually. Time constraints on each member’s comments will be at the discretion of the board president, but members are asked to keep comments to less than five minutes. The following items will be discussed: 1. Review and approval of the 2020 Electric Times Interest Earned Ratio (TIER) analysis, 2. Consideration of potential adjustments to Electric Rates, 3. Reconciliation of the 2020 Power Supply Cost Recovery Factor collections, 4. Consideration of a new limited nonstandard option related to the Advanced Metering Infrastructure tariff, 5. Consideration of revisions to the cooperative’s billing rules. Participation: Any interested member may attend to participate, and should contact Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op at 800-423-6634 a week in advance. If COVID-19 prevents an inperson meeting, accommodations for remote participation will be made for members wanting to participate. Comments may also be made before the meeting date by calling CEO Thomas Sobeck at 800-423-6634, or by email at tsobeck@pieg.com. * In-person meeting is tentative at publishing time. The meeting may be held electronically, depending on COVID-19 restrictions in place at that time.

1937–1994–2021 Tom Sobeck, President & CEO


hat do these three years all have in common? Each represents a significant milestone for PIE&G and the citizens of northeast Michigan.

In 1937, northeast Michigan was still literally in the dark. With the help of the Rural Electrification Act of 1936, local farmers banded together to create the Rural Electrification Administration (REA) to bring electricity to the area. The REA became known as Presque Isle Electric Cooperative as electric service was extended to more people. This milestone was achieved by a group of individuals that recognized the need for essential service in our region and possessed the courage to take on the task. These were not influential business people or wealthy venture capitalists looking for a return on their investment. They were residents with the foresight and fortitude to take the necessary steps to provide what they saw as an essential service. In 1994, our region still had limited heating options of wood, heating oil, or propane. The board of directors of the newly renamed Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op recognized the opportunity to meet residents’ needs through its multiyear commitment to providing natural gas service to our communities. Over the past 26 years, nearly 13,000 homes and businesses have come to enjoy the benefits of clean, reliable natural gas service. Each year, the co-op continues to look for ways to benefit more of its members. This year, your board of directors has recognized another opportunity to provide an essential service that many members lack: access to reliable, high-speed internet. The board approved the formation of a Fiber-To-The-Home division and PIE&G’s participation in the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) through an auction conducted

by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) last November. PIE&G was awarded more than $11 million over the next 10 years to build and operate a fiber network to bring high-speed internet access to members and northeast lower Michigan. The pandemic has demonstrated the great need for digital access, from remote learning and at-home working to telemedicine and maintaining relationships. Once more, your board of directors has shown its courage and resolve by stepping up to serve where others motivated by profit have chosen not to invest. As always, our mission is to provide vital services to sustain and improve the quality of life for our members using the cooperative business model. The fiber project furthers that mission, and we’re excited to begin steps to our next significant milestone. Our board’s focus is always reliable service at an affordable rate. We ask for your patience as we begin to design, develop and implement this project. The process will take place over the next several years, and our goal is to provide access to the entire membership. We realize you have many questions that we cannot answer today. We plan to make this project successful, and we will do our best to get new information to you as quickly as possible. Additional information will be provided to keep you updated on this exciting and life-changing project as it develops. Look for information in our Country Lines publications, online at pieg.com and on our Facebook page. Please note: Enrollment is not available yet. Make sure you get the latest news by keeping your mailing address and email address current.



Efficient Outdoor Lighting Tips For Better Security And Entertaining By James Dulley

ith energy-efficient LEDs and CFLs, it is much easier to light your house effectively without driving up your electric bills. Although these bulbs, especially LEDs, are initially somewhat more expensive, they last for tens of thousands of hours.


To plan lighting for both home security and when entertaining, it is generally best to plan for two separate lighting layouts. The intensity, location, and light color quality are different for optimal security and entertaining. For example, your security lighting layout must be larger and cover hidden areas that guests will never visit. Brighter, more intense lighting is better for entertaining than for security. High color


MARCH 2021

temperature LED bulbs or integral fixtures produce a whiter light. This is great for entertaining and makes colors look more like they do in daylight. These are often called “daylight” bulbs on the packaging or 4,000K or 5,000K bulbs. The higher the Kelvin rating of the bulb, the cooler and more blue the light emitted will appear. With a lower Kelvin, the light is warmer and more yellow. For security, a less bright light with a lower color temperature in the 2,700K range is best to use. If brighter security light is used, it causes a person’s pupils to get smaller from the glare. This makes it more difficult to see in unlit or very dimly lit areas where a crook may be hiding.

Entertainment Lighting Planning your lighting for entertaining is fairly simple, so do this first. You know where you and your guests will be and what activities will typically be going on. Lighting around your front door is the first area that every guest sees, and you want it to be as welcoming as possible. Bright, whiter light is ideal here. Select two fixtures from one-quarter to onethird the height of your front door so they don’t look too small or too large for the entrance area. The center of the bulb should be 66 to 72 inches above the floor. This also provides a nice appearance from the street. LED bulbs or integral LED light fixtures are the best choice for the front door. This is particularly true in colder climates. LEDs reach their full brightness almost instantly. CFLs take a few seconds to warm up and get bright when it’s cold.

If someone knocks on your door, you want full brightness as soon as you switch on the lights. For other fixtures where the lights are on for a while, CFLs are fine. For general entertaining where less bright lighting is adequate, consider using low-voltage landscaping fixtures around a deck or patio. These are very easy and safe to install yourself. This also provides the opportunity to change or add to the lighting pattern at any time in just a few minutes. It’s also good to install shielded light fixtures. These block the light from shining up into the sky. This light is wasted and contributes to light pollution. Light pollution is annoying to neighbors and a danger to birds and wildlife. Visit darksky.org for more information.

Security Lighting Security lighting planning takes more thought, and there are more lighting options. If a house and yard are illuminated properly, a thief will usually avoid it. To plan security lighting, switch on the indoor lights that you normally use. Take a walk around your house and look for locations that are not lighted. Pay particular attention to windows or doors that may be somewhat hidden by shrubs or other landscaping from view. These are important areas for efficient light fixtures. PAR38 LED floodlight bulbs are a good choice for specific areas like these. PAR38 bulbs come in a variety of beam angles to fit the area of coverage you need. The angles range from 10 degrees, which is narrow for smaller areas, to 50 degrees, which is a wide flood.

One of the most efficient and effective types of security light is a motionsensing fixture. The time that the light stays on is adjustable from 15 to 60 seconds, so little electricity is used. When the light comes on, a thief assumes he was seen and leaves. For more security, select a two-level model that keeps a dim light on until it brightens when motion is detected. Solar-powered LED motion-sensing models are the easiest to install yourself. Any floodlights should ideally be located nine feet above the ground to be most effective.



Where Iron Meets International Manufacturing By Emily Haines Lloyd


om Moran is a special breed that may have been born for entrepreneurship.

“I don’t believe in stress for myself,” said Moran. “I love a challenge—learning new things and figuring our solutions. So, my job is kinda perfect for me.” Moran started Moran Iron Works right out of high school in his hometown of Onaway, Michigan. Now, 40 years later, Moran leads his relatively small team in large modular metal fabrication jobs that include anything from fabricating a 64-foot boat keel to creating scaffolding to paint The Mighty Mackinac Bridge. The Presque Isle Electric Co-op member may be rooted in a small town, but he is always ready for larger-than-life opportunities as his company seeks to expand its portfolio. So, when a connection was made with Ann Arbor-based Watermaster North America to fabricate a Finnishengineered AMD 5000 amphibious dredging machine, Moran was ready as ever to not only determine the viability

8 MARCH 2021

and logistics of taking on the project, but readying himself to learn something new. “During a series of meetings here in Onaway and Helsinki (Finland), I was really amazed by the well-thought design of the Finnish,” said Moran. “As we continued with the project, I was constantly learning new things and mentally taking notes on how to improve other systems. I love the learning curve of my job.” This game-changing piece of mammoth machinery is now available state-side due to Moran Iron Works’ involvement. The Watermaster machine has been sold worldwide for 30 years but not in the United States due to an import policy called the Jones Act. The Jones Act is a federal law that requires goods shipped between U.S. ports to be transported on ships that are built, owned, and operated by U.S. citizens or permanent residents.

“ We’re proud to carry on the tradition and heritage of manufacturing in the U.S. We’re proud of what we do, and it shows in our work.” —Tom Moran

By some standards, the 70-person shop at Moran Iron Works seems like an unlikely crew for the massive undertaking, but not in Moran’s mind. “This is what we do,” said Moran. “We’re proud to carry on the tradition and heritage of manufacturing in the U.S. We’re proud of what we do, and it shows in our work.” Moran pauses to reflect on his company’s success and notes that having traveled around the world, he’s observed a few things that always seem to be present in successful manufacturing areas—with a reliable energy source being one of the most important aspects. He notes you couldn’t successfully maintain schedules or deliver quality products without reliable energy. “It’s something that can be overlooked, but having reliable energy is crucial to manufacturing,” Moran said. “I’ve bragged over the years that we have only lost power a handful of times over our 40-year history. I’ve never had to send my teams home due to power loss. I can tell you— that’s so significant to my business and its success.” Global partnerships like the one between Moran and Watermaster NA are impressive and tell a story of Michigan’s undying manufacturing roots. However, the authentic leadership, generational work ethic, and good old-fashioned Midwest tenacity might be at the very heart of the success. As Moran Iron Works continues to dream and build big, it’s got the small-town heart and grit to make it a reality.



MI CO-OP Recipes

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

SOUPS Simmer up with one of these comforting recipes.


CHICKEN GNOCCHI SOUP Lisa Weiss, Thumb Electric

1 1 ½ 2 ½ 3–4 8 ¼ ¼ 1 1 2 1

Win a


energy bill credit!

10 MARCH 2021


Fruity Desserts due April 1 • Whole Grains due May 1 • Fish & Seafood due July 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 recipes at micoopkitchen.com or email to recipes@countrylines.com.

tablespoon avocado or olive oil celery stalk, chopped white onion, diced teaspoons minced garlic cup shredded carrots chicken breasts, cooked and diced cups chicken broth teaspoon salt teaspoon freshly ground black pepper teaspoon dried thyme (32-ounce) package potato gnocchi cups half & half cup fresh spinach, roughly chopped

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add celery, onion, garlic, and carrots and sauté for 2–3 minutes, until onions are translucent. Add chicken, chicken broth, salt, pepper, thyme, and gnocchi; bring to a boil. Then reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Stir in half & half and spinach and cook for another 1–2 minutes, until spinach is tender. Taste, add additional salt and pepper if needed, and serve. Watch a video of this month’s winning recipe at micoopkitchen.com/videos


Deb Finedell, Great Lakes Energy 2 1 2 2 7½ 2¹⁄ ³ 3 1

tablespoons olive oil cup chopped bacon onions, chopped garlic cloves, finely chopped cups vegetable stock cups diced potatoes cups shredded cabbage teaspoon Worcestershire or Tabasco sauce 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard 3 teaspoons parsley, finely chopped • salt and pepper

Heat olive oil in a large pan. Add bacon, onions, and garlic. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently for 5–7 minutes until bacon is crisp and onions are browned. Pour in vegetable stock. Add potatoes, cabbage, Worcestershire/Tabasco and mustard. Mix well. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally. Remove pan from heat and allow to cool slightly. Transfer 2½ cups of the soup to food processor or blender. Process briefly to a coarse puree and return to pan. Stir well and return soup to heat. Cook, stirring frequently for 5–10 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley and season with salt and pepper.

BELLY FRIENDLY CHICKEN AND SWEET POTATO SOUP Katie Schneider, Midwest Energy & Communications


Maryann Selders, HomeWorks Tri-County 2 tablespoons olive oil 1–2 pounds meaty pork ribs, loin, or chops 1 large onion, chopped 5–6 small to medium fresh beets, peeled and cubed 2 (1-pound) cans diced beets 1 (1-pound) can plain sauerkraut, drained and rinsed in cold water ½ small head cabbage, thinly sliced 2 bay leaves • several sprigs of fresh dill • salt and pepper, to taste 1 cup half & half • sour cream

Heat oil in large Dutch oven or stockpot. Place pork and onions in pot and cook over medium-low heat a few minutes, until meat is browned and onions are translucent. Add fresh beets, canned beets (including juices), sauerkraut, cabbage, and bay leaves. Add enough water just to cover all ingredients. Bring to boil. As foam forms on top of broth, skim off and discard. When this is complete, add a few of the sprigs of fresh dill, and salt and black pepper to taste. Reduce heat to very low OR place in a slow cooker and simmer for 2–3 hours, covered. Remove meat from pot; discard any bones and excess fat. Shred meat with fork; return to pot. Put 1½ cups of broth in a medium bowl and slowly add half & half to it. Stir and then slowly add back into main pot of soup. If done too fast, the milk will curdle. It is still okay to eat but just does not look as pretty. Serve with sour cream and remaining fresh dill to garnish.

4 cups chicken bone broth ½ cup nondairy milk (almond, coconut, etc.), divided 2 cooked chicken breasts, finely chopped 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into small chunks (2 cups) 1 small butternut squash, peeled and cut into small chunks (2 cups) 2 carrots, peeled and chopped 1 teaspoon ground ginger 2 teaspoons turmeric • freshly ground black pepper, to taste Combine bone broth and half of the nondairy milk in a large saucepan. Stir in the cooked chicken, sweet potatoes, squash, carrots, ginger, and turmeric. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 35–40 minutes, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are softened. Blend to smooth using a blender or immersion/ hand blender. Or keep as-is for a chunkier soup. Finally, add the remaining half of the dairy-free milk to the mixture and stir through to make it extra creamy. Serve immediately. Add black pepper if desired.



We’ve Got You Covered armer weather is right around the corner, and along with it comes the humidity we know all too well. Humid air is the culprit for many indoor air pollutants found inside homes, like dust mites, mold, and spores that can lead to serious health issues. Excessive moisture in the air can also damage homes, causing the wood to rot or paint to peel.


Portable dehumidifiers are often undersized and run more than they should, resulting in added energy costs. In spring and summer, many homes need larger whole-home dehumidification solutions. ENERGY STAR® whole-home dehumidifiers are specifically designed to maintain the proper level of humidity in your entire home. They can save you energy, increase indoor comfort, and prevent mildew and bacterial growth, thereby increasing the quality of the air you breathe. Additional benefits of whole-home dehumidifiers include: • Prevents damp carpet, mold, and mildew. • Protects your home from damaging moisture. • Removes up to 16 gallons of water a day. • No water tray to empty.

Save on energy costs. A whole-home dehumidifier can also relieve the demands made on your air conditioner during hot, humid days. Drier air feels cooler, so you can turn your thermostat up a few degrees. The A/C doesn’t run as often, saving energy and cutting costs. Save even more with a $700 incentive when you install a new ENERGY STAR certified whole-home dehumidifier in your home. Check out additional savings available to you through the Energy Optimization program and select retailers by contacting michigan-energy.org or call 877-296-4319.

WE’VE GOT YO U C OV E R E D Install an ENERGY STAR® certified whole-home dehumidifier to remove excess moisture. n Eliminate unhealthy air n Increase air comfort n Protect from mold & mildew


ON QUALIFYING MODELS Online: michigan-energy.org

Phone: 877.296.4319

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


Wild Animals 1. God bless the USA. Debbi Glossop 2. A bull moose playing peek-a-boo. Tashia Spencer  3. Elk cow and calf in Pigeon River State Forest. Gwen Boulter  4. A majestic bull elk. Denise Kirchoff  5. Guess what? Swan butt. Amie Coloff  6. Just hanging out. Charlotte Helman  7. I know you’re in there! Randy Niederhouse  8. Bird feeder bandit. Ann March  9. Love is in the air. Heide MacDonald  10. I’ve got my eyes on you. Calvin E. McCaslin Jr.  11. A country boy with his pet raccoon. Melissa Brown  12. Smiling moose! Lynne Coleman


Enter to win up to a


energy bill credit!













Submit Your “Mom & Me” Photos!

Submit your best photo and encourage others to vote! The photo receiving the most votes in our photo contest will be printed in an issue of Country Lines along with some of our other favorites. Our March/April theme is Mom & Me. Photos can be submitted through March 27 to be featured in our May/June issue. To enter the contest, visit pieg.com/photocontest. Enter your picture, cast your vote, and encourage others to vote for you as well. If your photo is printed in Country Lines during 2021, you will be entered to win a credit of up to $200 on your December 2021 bill. MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES 13

Captain BJ Massey pilots the Laura Ann back to the dock after lifting nets.


hen zebra mussels or other foreign aquatic invaders find their way into the Great Lakes, the outlook can appear dire. But nature has a way of adapting and even growing. While an entire energy source can diminish and appear to threaten the survival of the fish that feed on it, miraculously, another energy source can present itself, like clouds of gnats whose larvae provided a new food option for local whitefish or menominee. It’s the power of nature and the truth that adaptability is perhaps life’s greatest form of survival. Commercial fishermen like Jamie and BJ Massey of Massey Fish Co. in St. Ignace, Michigan, have spent their careers watching these sorts of natural phenomena unfold and have taken a cue on the power of flexibility in their own lives. The father and son, representing the fifth and sixth generations of commercial fishermen in their family, understand that you have to understand your surroundings and adapt in order to grow. “My great-great-great-grandfather, Charlie Massey, came to the area with the Hudson’s Bay Fur Company,” said Jamie Massey, president of Massey Fish Co. “He went on to become a logger, then a commercial fisherman. Six generations later, our family is still in the business, even though it looks completely different.”

Tackling Commercial

With Massey Fish Co. By Emily Haines Lloyd Photos courtesy of Massey Fish Co.

Charlie Massey likely couldn’t have imagined the massive boats and equipment his family would eventually use in the 21st century. Jamie and BJ both hold their commercial fishing licenses and have turned the small family fishing operation into a thriving business that sells its products not only all over the state, but around the country, as well as internationally. Over the last ten years, the two Masseys currently at the helm have made significant upgrades and improvements to their infrastructure, including blast and storage freezers with electric upgrades made possible by Cloverland Electric Cooperative. “There’s no set handbook on how to grow your business,” said BJ. “You have to be quick to think and then react to the circumstances. This is something we learned on the water; you have to be agile.”

One of the key components to the company’s growth, with an approximately 25% increase in the last year, is the commitment to not only fishing the Great Lakes, but investing in the processing of its catch, including its famed smoked fish. “As a company, we could choose to catch and sell our fish, which would allow our families to make a living,” said BJ. “But by processing and packaging it here, we’re creating at least 20 more livelihoods and having a real impact on our community. It’s a big responsibility, but one we’re willing to take on.” Massey Fish Co. makes over 100 products with the fish it catches and purchases each season, which in some years has been as much as 1.5 million pounds. Its reach continues to grow as it dips into off-season fishing (November–May)— braving the harsh conditions and below zero temps. It is continually looking for market growth, and about a decade ago, found a surprising niche with farmers markets in the state. What started as testing the waters with a couple of coolers at one outdoor market has grown into its product being available at 33 farmers markets, including the largest in the state, as consumers have a sincere interest in locallysourced and quality fish as a protein source. “We sell what’s fresh and plentiful. And we only sell what we’d be willing to eat,” said BJ. “And I can tell you this— we’re picky.” Their pickiness has paid off. However, their love of the outdoors and their respect for nature could be the true keys to Massey Fish Co.’s success. It doesn’t hurt that the father and son love what they do.

Don Massey (Jamie’s and BJ’s father) winches up a trap net.

“I tell people, honestly, for me, fishing is like Christmas morning every day. It’s never been a job,” said Jamie. “I’ve always loved and respected nature, and when you are enthusiastic about what’s in front of you, there’s a ton of excitement. I think it’s important for everyone to find those things that spark excitement in them. Those passions can last a lifetime.”

1442 West Rd., St. Ignace, MI 49781 906-984-2148


L–R: The crew pulls nets under the ice on Lake Huron.



BEFORE Before and after shots of a line circuit. A newly cleared right-of-way can look extreme at first, but as the growth returns the landscape regains its natural beauty.

Why Your Co-op Clears Vegetation our co-op leadership team recognizes that reliable electricity is not just a luxury; it’s an expectation. That’s why your electric co-op considers its prime objective to be providing you with a reliable and safe electric distribution system. One of the most common—and crucial—ways to do this is referred to as right-of-way clearing (or vegetation management). A right-of-way (ROW) refers to a strip of land underneath or around power lines that your electric cooperative has the right and responsibility to maintain and clear. Many members may not be aware that trees can be a major obstacle to good electric service. To improve your service experience, PIE&G has an aggressive, proactive overhead line clearance program that’s proven to significantly reduce outage hours related to tree interference with our distribution system. That’s why PIE&G has devoted over $1 million annually for right-of-way maintenance for the last six years.


What We Do and Why PIE&G’s line clearance standard is to obtain and maintain a ground-to-sky clearance of 15–20 feet, free from all obstructions, on each side of the power line. Where our facilities cross private property, an easement gives us the right to use that property to maintain our right-of-way. An easement can be written and recorded, meaning it is signed and on file at the county Register of Deeds office where the service is located. An easement may also be unwritten or “prescriptive,” where the land has been used

16 MARCH 2021

for utility purposes in a continuous and open manner for the statutory period of 15 years under Michigan law. PIE&G’s line clearing program (also called “Vegetation Management”) consists of two approaches: mechanical clearing and herbicide application.

2021 Mechanical Clearing Plan Mechanical clearing is scheduled to begin between January and December. PIE&G’s licensed contractors will trim overgrown trees along 374 miles of overhead line at various locations throughout our nine-county service territory. Members who may be in proximity to areas designated for mechanical clearing will be notified by mail prior to the onset of work in that area. PIE&G will determine if there are trees in your maintained lawn area that should be trimmed or cut. A representative from one of our contracted crews will attempt to contact you in person before the work is started.

2021 Herbicide Application The schedule for herbicide application is set to occur between March and October. PIE&G has hired professional, licensed contractors to treat approximately 394 miles of line throughout its service territory with state-approved herbicide. PIE&G will notify members whose service is near the designated areas by mail prior to the onset of work. Herbicide is not applied to mowed lawn areas. Herbicide

AFTER The ground-to-sky approach to line clearance helps to make sure that trees don’t form a canopy over the lines.

effectively controls tall-growing trees and bushes while promoting low-growing plants such as grasses, wildflowers and shrubs that are beneficial to wildlife. It offers longerterm results in a more cost-effective way and is endorsed by several environmental, forestry and wildlife providers as offering benefits to many wildlife species.

Jobsite Cleanup Our contract crews dispose of trimmed branches and limbs in the most economic and practical manner possible. It is customary during regular line clearing activity that crews will remove branches and limbs within maintained or landscaped areas, and leave the wood for use by the property owner. In unmaintained areas, crews will leave wood, branches and limbs for use by the property owner to decompose naturally. PIE&G does not remove stumps after tree removal. During emergency power restoration activities, crews clear trees off and away from our lines in order to make repairs. PIE&G does not return to remove wood, branches and limbs that were removed during outage restoration efforts.

Service Line Trimming PIE&G will trim along the service line running from the transformer to your home when a tree is in contact with the power line. We do not remove trees located near service lines. If you plan to have a tree removed from your property, contact us several days in advance so we can schedule a crew to visit, de-energize and drop the line so you can have the tree safely removed. PIE&G will need at least two days prior notice.

Plan Ahead Trees and power lines do not mix, so careful planning is important before you begin any landscape plan or outdoor project. Trees grow quickly so the seedling you plant today may well reach a height exceeding 30–50 feet in a few years. Avoid planting trees beneath overhead utility lines or near your service line. Look around and note what’s overhead, on the ground, and underground before beginning any outdoor work project.

Our Commitment To Safety Safety is a top priority for PIE&G. Although Mother Nature provides an amazing setting for our enjoyment of outdoor activities, it’s best to keep your activities away from overhead power lines. If you see a downed power line due to a fallen tree or branch, stay away and immediately call PIE&G to report it. Never attempt to remove branches or trim trees that are near power lines to avoid potential electrical contact. Any tree in close proximity to a power line can present a safety hazard.

For More Information For more information about PIE&G’s line clearance procedures, contact our Member Services Department at 800-423-6634.

MI CO-OP Community Guest Column

There’s Magic In A Frog Pond

By Steve Begnoche, Great Lakes Energy member

wo ponds near our Upper Peninsula cottage along the shore of Lake Superior’s Whitefish Bay are mere puddles compared to the big lake. But they are a world unto themselves that captivate our grandchildren.


One pond is on the beach near my siblings’ cottages. It’s the outlet of a ditch between Superior Drive and adjacent woody swamps. It leaks icy-cold, tannin-stained, root beercolored water into the bay. It’s been that way since my childhood, more than 60 years ago, when my siblings and I spent hours catching frogs there. It’s a favorite of my eldest granddaughter Kayleigh, who has heard grandpa’s tales of frog-hunting forays there. Kayleigh began heading to the pond when visiting us, declaring “it’s her turn” to catch frogs in it. It took practice, patience, and persistence, but eventually, she caught a frog. It’s debatable whether the frog or Kayleigh was more surprised. This past summer, our grandson Grayson, now 5, netted frogs in a neighbor’s pond. Grayson spent hours stalking the edges of the 8x16-foot man-made pond. Nearly choked with last year’s leaves, he raked it clean to have a better view of the frogs. Neighbor Renee was pleased with the maintenance. Grayson came equipped with a net, to which he added a stick for a longer handle. Every time he caught a frog, he’d run to anyone in sight or on the beach to show them his catch. Then he’d run back and release the frog into the pond. Grayson enjoys Lake Superior, the bay, the beach, and fishing. This past summer, he was the frog hunter. In a troubled world, kids find joy in ways kids always have— riveted to catching memories in the little ponds of life.

Win a


energy bill credit!

Steve Begnoche is a writer and landscape and nature photographer who spent nearly 40 years in community newspapering, including 30 years at the Ludington Daily News. He comes by his love for the Upper Peninsula from his parents, who bought a lot on Whitefish Bay in the 1950s. The family included seven children and vacationed there every summer. He and his wife Brenda, their three children, and five grandchildren carry on that tradition with a place of their own. Five siblings also have places along the bay shared with their families.

Share your fondest memories and stories. Win $150 for stories published! Visit countrylines.com/community to submit.

Where In Michigan Is This? Identify the correct location of the photo above by February 20 and be entered into a drawing to win a $50 electric bill credit. Enter your guess at countrylines.com/community. January 2021 Winner! Our Mystery Photo winner is Steve Pelli, an Ontonagon County REA member, who correctly identified the photo as the Cooley Bridge, which was built in 1934 and is one of Michigan’s rarest bridge types. Photo by Karen Farrell. Winners are announced in the following issues of Country Lines: January, March, May, July/August, September, and November/ December.

What’s hybrid heating & cooling? Well-Connect is a water-source heat pump designed to operate simultaneously with an existing furnace. Well-Connect does not replace your current heating system — it works alongside it. In the same way a hybrid vehicle greatly reduces the need for gas, doubling the fuel spend on propane or fuel oil. It also eliminates the need to burn wood.

What’s the bottom line? Well-Connect collectively saves Michigan homeowners more than $1 million in heating and cooling costs every year. For rural homeowners, heating with a Well-Connect can be compared to locking in a propane price of $1 per gallon for the next two decades, and that includes the cost of an installed Well-Connect system.

Tell me about installation. In most cases, installing a Well-Connect only takes six to eight hours in homes with three-in-one geothermal system — heating, cooling and summertime dehumidification — is low maintenance and operates with a push of a button.

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My house is much more comfortable! “Areas of my home were cold & drafty in the winter, hot & humid all summer, and I was tired of maintaining my wood stove. A Well-Connect geothermal system was installed in a day, right next to my propane furnace. Now my home is so much more comfortable. No more drafts or cold rooms in my house. I no longer use a space heater, and I burn wood only when I want.” - Rev. Charles S., PIE&G Member








Hybrid Geothermal



Lineworkers know how to get the job done. Let’s thank them for powering our lives.

Lineworker Appreciation Day April 12, 2021 #ThankALineworker

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