March 2023 PIE&G

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Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op March 2023 MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES Energy Optimization—Good for Members and the Environment Safe Generator Use PLAUNT TRANSPORTATION Keeping Bois Blanc Island In Touch With The Mainland For Almost A Century

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visit us at WaterFurnace is a registered trademark of WaterFurnace International, Inc. 1. 30% through 2032, 26% through 2033 and 22% through 2034

#micoopcommunity Instagram contest winner

Where the shoreline meets the rainbow @morel_momma (Sherrie Sanville)

Michigan’s Electric Cooperatives


EDITOR: Christine Dorr


RECIPE EDITOR: Christin McKamey

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.

CONTACT US/LETTERS TO EDITOR: Michigan Country Lines 201 Townsend St., Suite 900 Lansing, MI 48933 248-534-7358

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.


Counting 25,000 ducks is all in a day’s work for the Straits Area Audubon Society.

10 MI CO-OP KITCHEN Seafood Recipes: Healthy options from

14 THE FUTURE LOOKS BRIGHT FOR ACTIONGLOW At first they didn’t succeed ... but then the Porter brothers tried, tried, and tried again with great success!


For one HomeWorks member, tending his garden is a spiritual experience that conjures memories of his father.

MI Co-op Community

To enter contests, submit reader content & more, visit

Instagram Contest

Use #micoopcommunity for a chance to be featured here and on our Instagram account. Win $100 for photos published!

Recipe Contest

See details on page 10. Polish Favorites due April 1; One-Pan Meals due May 1 Win a $100 bill credit!

Guest Column

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

Mystery Photo

See details on page 18. Win a $100 bill credit!

Contents March 2023 Vol. 43, No. 3 /michigancountrylines /michigancountrylines
under the sea.


Charles Arbour

23899 M32 S, Hillman MI 49746

989-657-4358 • Term Expires: 2023

Allan Berg, Vice-Chairman

8400 Lost Lake Rd., Hawks, MI 49743

989-734-0044 • Term Expires 2023

Sandy Borowicz, Secretary 5341 Carlson Rd.,Cheboygan, MI 49721

231-627-9220 • Term Expires 2024

John Brown, Chairman 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 2024

Kurt Krajniak 7630 Wallace Rd., Alpena, MI 49707

989-884-3037 • Term Expires 2025

Brentt Lucas 15841 Carr Rd., Posen, MI 49776

989-766-3678 • Term Expires 2025

Daryl Peterson, Treasurer

P.O. Box 54, Hillman, MI 49746

989-742-3145 • Term Expires 2024

Raymond Wozniak

6737 State St., Posen, MI 49776

989-766-2498 • Term Expires 2025

President & CEO: Thomas J. Sobeck

Communications Director/Co-op Editor:

Mairè Chagnon-Hazelman

Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op

3149 Main Street (M-211)

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.

PIE&G’s Energy Optimization Program Rewards Members for Energy Waste Reduction

The results of PIE&G’s Energy Optimization (EO) efforts in 2022 demonstrate our commitment to members by helping them reduce electricity consumption, and to the environment through reduced carbon emissions. Some of you have taken advantage of our EO and Energy Waste Reduction (EWR) programs, but many members may be missing an opportunity to save money on their monthly electric bill and help the environment at the same time.

We recently reviewed the results of member participation in our 2022 program and its impact. The good news is that the program allowed members to reduce their electricity consumption by 630,738 kilowatt-hours. That translates to a reduction in carbon emissions of over 250 tons! We’d really like to see an increase in those numbers in 2023, but we need your help.

Our EO programs range from payments for recycling old, inefficient refrigerators, freezers, room A/Cs, or dehumidifiers, to rebates on efficient ENERGY STAR appliances, to free home energy assessments, and much more. You can learn more about all our offerings—for your home, business, or farm— on our website at I encourage you to see if you can benefit from any of these programs. It’s a great way to reduce your energy consumption and your energy costs, while doing your part for the environment at the same time. If you have any questions, call PIE&G’s Energy Optimization team Monday–Friday from 8 a.m.–5 p.m. EST at 877.296.4319.

Look for more details in the April issue of Country Lines, and please consider participating in the program.

250 TONS OF CARBON IS EQUIVALENT TO: 1 MILLION+ MILES DRIVEN BY A GAS-POWERED CAR 932,000 POUNDS OF COAL BURNED (SOURCE EPA.GOV) Savings Opportunity Pounds of Carbon* Rebate Recycle Fridge or Freezer 660 $25 Wi-Fi Thermostat 305 $50 Mini-Split Heat Pump 3,600 $1,000+ Ground Source Heat Pump 5,850 $1,500 *Estimates based on EPA data and equipment energy consumption By working together, we can all take small steps to reduce our electric bill and carbon emissions and earn cash at the same time! VISIT • CALL 877-296-4319 4 MARCH 2023

Your Board In Action

At its most recent meetings, the PIE&G Board of Directors:

• Set the next Member Regulation Special Board meeting date and time for March 28, 2023, at 9:30 a.m. at the cooperative’s headquarters in Onaway, Michigan.

• Approved revisions to Board Policy 113 (Per Diem Allowances for Committees & Boards Other Than Directors) and Board Policy 203 (Capital Credit Retirements).

• Adopted new Board Policy 308 (Cyber Security).

• Appointed board representatives to the Wolverine Power Cooperative, Michigan Electric Cooperative Association, and Spartan Renewable Energy boards of directors.

• Designated voting delegates for the annual meetings of Wolverine Power Cooperative, Michigan Electric Cooperative Association, Spartan Renewable Energy, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corporation, and National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative.

• Authorized CEO Sobeck to sign an amended letter of credit with Sequent Energy.

• Accepted Team Reports.


PIE&G’s office will be closed on Good Friday, April 7. Regular office hours resume on Monday, April 10, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Access your account anytime with SmartHub on your laptop or tablet at, or download our free SmartHub mobile app. You may also pay your bill at our 24-hour drop box located at 3149 Main Street in Onaway (enclose bill stub with check or money order only) or use our free phone service for payments and meter readings anytime by calling 1-866-999-4571.

For electric emergencies – call 800-423-6634. For gas emergency only – call 800-655-8565.


...all in the palm of your hand and online.
Report service issues
Receive important notices
Manage your account
View and pay your bill On the go and in control. SmartHub is a web and mobile app that allows you to do business with us like never before.
Visit our website for details

Redhead Ducks

Flock To The Straits Of Mackinac

When a large mass of black suddenly appeared in the Straits of Mackinac, motorists on the bridge called the Mackinac Bridge Authority to report a potential oil spill. But to the bridge personnel and bird lovers who follow such things, they knew it wasn’t an environmental disaster, but rather a natural wonder.

Every winter, masses of birds flock from their northern habitats to seek warmer weather for the cold season ahead. Many of them take a rest in the Straits of Mackinac, including the redhead duck. What is normally a floating group, or raft, of about 7,000 made a bigger splash by topping out at about 25,000 during this year’s annual Christmas bird count.

“We’ve never seen anything like this,” said Straits Area Audubon Society member Steve Baker. “We certainly see peaks some years, but this was an explosion that was really remarkable to witness.”

Redheads are a species of diving duck known for massing in groups that reach thousands to tens of thousands during their early winter migration. Large redhead flocks aren’t necessarily uncommon in the region this time of year, but the shining cinnamon red heads of the males in the sun were a remarkable sight to see.

The numbers collected during the Christmas season are a part of a nationwide effort by conservation groups who identify an area about 15 miles across, congregate into teams for a day, and compile numbers. Baker was in the group escorted across the Mackinac bridge and permitted to count and photograph the ducks for the Christmas Bird Count.

“This goes back to the 1900s when we started seeing birds, like the passenger pigeon, disappear,” said Baker. “Beyond it being a valuable activity that tracks numbers and migration patterns, it’s great fun to be outdoors with people who share your passion.”

The Straits Area Audubon Society actually takes a much broader approach to its interests and activities. While bird lovers flock to the organization, the breadth of what they are involved in reaches beyond their feathered friends.

6 MARCH 2023

The focus of the Straits Area Audubon Society is to “educate the community, including its children, about conservation and enjoyment of the natural world with emphasis on the local natural communities of wildlife,” per its mission statement.

A retired veterinarian, Baker came to the organization as many do. “I was a birder who loved being outdoors and really enjoyed being around a good core group of people. But there’s a lot more to the Audubon Society than just birds,” he said.

The society also spawned the Mackinac Straits Raptor Watch, a monarch butterfly banding program, and an extensive educational arm.

“Kathy Bricker was a dynamic leader and member of our group who really kicked off the educational part of our programming,” said Baker. “She brought so much energy and information to our schools and community.”

Bricker, who passed away from ovarian cancer last spring, was a former president of the Straits Area Audubon Society, the founder of Earth Week Plus programs, and the creator of the Snakes Alive program that educated kids throughout Northern Michigan about the outdoors. Bricker’s passion and purpose still resonates in the environmental and wildlife community in Michigan. Her efforts show that a single person can impact how generations to come will see, interact, and potentially fall in love with nature.

“Being part of the Audubon Society and seeing new people join for the same reasons I did when I started is encouraging,” said Baker. “We’re one of the largest citizen science programs out there that hope to keep the outdoors an amazing place for exploration and discovery.”

For more information, visit:


“We’ve never seen anything like this. We certainly see peaks some years, but this was an explosion that was really remarkable to witness.”

Banish Mold And Mildew!

Spring and the onset of warmer weather leads to lots of new growth—but that doesn’t have to be the case inside your home. Prevent your residence from becoming a breeding ground for mold and mildew with an ENERGY STAR® whole-home dehumidifier.

Moisture matters.

High humidity is not only uncomfortable, it can be damaging to your home and health. Excess moisture in the air can cause wood to rot or paint to peel. Humid air is also the culprit for many indoor air pollutants that can lead to serious health issues, such as dust mites, mildew, mold, and spores.

ENERGY STAR whole-home dehumidifiers are specifically designed to maintain the proper level of humidity in your entire home, with advantages that allow you to breathe easily.

Eliminate unhealthy air.

• Increase air comfort

• Protect from mold & mildew

Reap the rewards.

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 won’t run as often, saving electricity and cutting costs.

Save even more energy and money by choosing an ENERGY STAR dehumidifier over less efficient conventional models. PLUS! Earn a $700 incentive from PIE&G when you install a new ENERGY STAR whole-home dehumidifier in your home.

See incentive details and check out additional savings available through Presque Isle’s Energy Optimization program by visiting

Presque Isle Energy Optimization programs and incentives are applicable to Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op electric service locations only. Incentive applies to qualified items purchased and installed between Jan 1, 2023 and Dec 31, 2023. Other restrictions may apply. For complete program details, visit MOISTURE
Maintain the proper level of humidity and breathe easy this spring with an ENERGY STAR® whole-home dehumidifier. u Eliminate unhealthy air u Increase air comfort u Protect from mold and mildew u Reduce demand on your A/C $700 REBATE ON QUALIFYING MODELS VISIT • CALL 877-296-4319

Enter to win up to a $50 energy bill credit!

Submit Your “Bikes” Photos By March 20!

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 theme is Bikes Photos can be submitted through March 20 to be featured in our May issue.

To enter the contest, visit Enter your picture, cast your vote, and encourage others to vote for you as well. If your photo is printed in Country Lines during 2023, you will be entered into a drawing for a chance to win one of four $50 credits on your January 2024 bill.



2. ’69 Mach One 351 4-Barrel Mustang. Suzanne Fisk

3. The Brits are here in a 1953 Triumph TR2. Carol Stauske

4. Her dad drives a 1972 Ford F250 Ranger Camper Special!! Kenneth Rossman

5. Dad’s toy. Denise R. Johnson

2 5 3 4 1
1. 1995 and fun. Sharon Wyman


Recipe Contest

Win a $100 energy bill credit!

Polish Favorites due April 1; One-Pan Meals due May 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 , or send it via email (include your full name and co-op) to



Ronald Andres, Great Lakes Energy

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

2 stalks celery, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 pound smoked steelhead trout (or smoked salmon), skin and bones removed, flaked into ½ -inch pieces

2 (15.5-ounce) cans great northern beans (use liquid)

2 (15.5-ounce) cans cannellini beans, rinsed

1 (14.5-ounce) can chicken broth

2 Anaheim peppers (braised, then seeds and skin removed), diced

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 tablespoon lemon pepper seasoning

1 quart heavy whipping cream

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Sauté onion, celery, and garlic in the hot oil until tender. Add smoked steelhead, great northern beans, cannellini beans, chicken broth, Anaheim peppers, cumin, coriander, oregano, and lemon pepper into the pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until flavors have blended, about 30 minutes. Stir in the whipping cream. Simmer until the whipping cream is hot, but do not boil.

Watch a video of this month’s winning recipe at

|| Recipes submitted by MCL readers and tested by recipe
MI CO-OP Recipes
Photos by Robert Bruce Photography
from under the sea. 10 MARCH 2023
Healthy options


Kathy Shoemaker, Great Lakes Energy

1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained

2 medium sweet onions, chopped

3 celery ribs, chopped

8 ounces baby bella mushrooms, sliced

½ green bell pepper, chopped

1 (8-ounce) bottle clam juice

1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste

½ cup dry white wine

1 cup vegetable broth

5 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon olive oil

1–2 teaspoons Italian seasoning

1 bay leaf

½ teaspoon sugar

¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 pound cod or haddock fillets, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 pound uncooked shrimp (41–50 per pound), peeled and deveined

1 (6-ounce) can chopped clams, undrained

1 (6-ounce) can lump crabmeat, drained

1 pound scallops, optional

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

• sourdough bread slices

• garlic aioli mustard

In a 5- or 6-quart slow cooker, combine the first 16 ingredients (do not add seafood yet). Cook, covered, on low for 4–5 hours. Stir in seafood. Cook, covered, 20–30 minutes longer or until fi sh just begins to flake easily with a fork and shrimp turns pink. Remove bay leaf. Add parsley and stir. Toast slices of sourdough bread. Spread garlic aioli mustard over toasted slices of bread and place in a bowl. Spoon seafood cioppino over the bread. Bon appétit!


Dave Neitzke, Great Lakes Energy

1 bag salad greens

• thinly sliced red onion rings

1 (4-ounce) can sockeye (red)


1 sliced hardboiled egg

1 tablespoon capers (salt dried, if possible)

Vinaigrette Dressing:

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

(1 large)

1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Layer the lettuce on a plate. To the bed of lettuce, add slices of red onion, salmon pieces, egg slices, and capers. To prepare the dressing, combine all ingredients and whisk to emulsify. Drizzle salad with dressing. Best served with warm crusty garlic bread and a cold lager.


Sherry Cole, HomeWorks Tri-County

¹⁄ ³ cup table salt

¹⁄ ³ cup paprika

¼ cup garlic powder

¼ cup freshly ground white or black pepper

3 tablespoons onion powder

2 tablespoons cayenne pepper, or to taste

2 tablespoons dried thyme

2 tablespoons dried basil

2 tablespoons dried oregano or winter savory

Thoroughly combine all ingredients in a blender, food processor, or mixing bowl, and pour the mixture into an airtight container. This spice mix will keep for years. Makes 2 cups. When preparing seafood, liberally sprinkle the seasoning on the entire piece of fi sh, on both sides, and gently rub into fi sh. Then bake at 350 F, broil, or fry in a pan until fi sh is opaque and flakes easily with a fork.




Electricity is produced at a generation facility either by renewable or nonrenewable energy sources.

Distributed Generation

Distributed generation systems like rooftop solar panels produce electricity when their energy source is available, such as when the sun shines. When the energy source is unavailable, the home or business receives electricity from the grid. If the system produces more electricity than needed, the excess power is sent back to the grid.

Transmission Lines and Substations

After the electricity is generated, it travels through high-voltage transmission power lines to electric substations, where the voltage is lowered.

Distribution Lines

Once the voltage is lowered, the electricity travels over distribution power lines, which ultimately deliver the electricity to our homes and businesses.

Notice to Members of Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op

A Special Board Meeting Is Set for 9:30 a.m. on March 28, 2023, at the Cooperative

The board of directors will consider changes to the cooperative’s rates and tariffs at its special meeting on Tuesday, March 28, 2023, to be held at 3149 Main Street, Onaway, Michigan. The meeting will start at 9:30 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. Time constraints on each member’s comments will be at the discretion of the board chairman, but members are asked to keep comments to less than five minutes.

The following items will be discussed:

• Reconciliation of the 2023 Power Supply Cost Recovery Factor collections;

• Consideration of adjustments to electric rates;

• Consideration of adjustments to the Seasonal Residential Service, Schedule S tariff to accommodate monthly billing for advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) and automated meter reading (AMR); and

• Consideration of revisions to the cooperative’s billing rules.

Notices of changes or additions to the cooperative’s rates or service rules shall be sent to all members, as required by P.A. 167, by first-class mail or by publication in Michigan Country Lines at least 30 days prior to their effective date.

Participation: Any interested member may attend, and, to participate, should contact Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op at 800-423-6634 a week in advance. Comments may also be made before the meeting date by calling CEO Thomas Sobeck at 800-423-6634, or by email at

12 MARCH 2023


Another good reason to make sure a transfer switch is installed and used when your home’s generator is operating is that serious electrical damage could result to electronics and appliances in your home if power from the generator and PIE&G both flow into your home at the same time.

Tips For Safe Generator Use

When winter’s winds begin to blow each year, they bring with them the chilling thought of power outages.

While PIE&G crews always work as quickly as they safely can to restore power following a storm, for some people, making the investment in a generator that can keep the lights on and some appliances running until electric service is restored is reassuring. For less than $1,000, a portable generator can provide just enough power to keep some essentials running. For a more sizable investment, a standby generator can automatically turn on to provide nearly all your home’s electric needs until electric service can be restored.

While having a generator can be a blessing in a power outage, it’s important to be aware of several essential safety considerations ahead of time. It could be a matter of life and death.

Here are the top-five safety considerations to keep in mind regarding generator use during a power outage.

Do not connect a portable generator yourself to your home wiring. Hire a licensed electrician to install a transfer switch safely. Although meter bases equipped with a built-in transfer switch can be purchased from Presque Isle Electric & Gas Coop, PIE&G does not install transfer switches or meter bases. Contact a licensed electrical contractor for installation. Contact us for more information about meter base transfer switches.


If not properly isolated from the outside electrical grid by a transfer switch, electricity from a generator connected to a home’s wiring system can flow back into the power lines, endangering the lives of those working to restore your power. Downed power lines can become energized, endangering family members and neighbors nearby. Always assume a downed power line is energized and keep clear.



Especially for portable models, be sure not to overload a generator. This can lead to overheating and poses a fire hazard. Also, do not refuel the generator until it has cooled off. If you don’t wait, you could cause an explosion.


Again, this warning is mainly directed at portable generator models. Operate the generator outdoors and protect it from rain and other moisture. Invest in a nonflammable cover to keep it dry. The generator should be at least 25 feet away from the house and doors, windows, and vents. Operating a generator in a garage can result in the buildup of deadly carbon monoxide.

If you have a generator, please contact PIE&G at 800-423-6634 to let us know so we can add a note to your account.




In 2012, Dakota, now 26, and Garret, now 23, Porter shot an application video to appear on ABC’s ”Shark Tank,” a reality TV show that features entrepreneurs pitching their ideas to a panel of potential investors or “sharks.”

The brothers’ product—an aftermarket LED light system for action sports equipment like snowboards, surfboards, and skateboards—ended up beating out the initial 40,000 applicants and they had hopes of ending up on the show with an investment deal. This is where many “small-town dreamers make good” stories begin, but that’s not quite the case for the brothers’ company, ActionGlow.

The Porters’ story actually starts back in 2012 when the two were just 16 and 13 years old. The Cherryland Electric Cooperative members, like many from the Traverse City area, were avid snowboarders and were looking for a way to trick out their boards to stand out on the hill. They imagined an LED light system that could be attached to their boards, making an impact on their evening runs. There wasn’t anything like it on the market, so the Porters ordered parts, tinkered around, and took their lighting systems out for a trial run a couple of weeks later.

“We went to Mt. Holiday for the first run,” said Dakota. “It felt like everyone on the whole mountain stopped to look. When we hit the bottom, a group gathered, asking where they could buy one.”

That would have been enough for many teens, just the look of approval and high-fives from their friends, but it wasn’t for the Porters.

“ We tell young people that if they have an idea—to go ahead and do it now. There’s so much to learn and so much less to lose. Take the risk because being young is the perfect time to fail.” —Garret Porter
14 MARCH 2023
Owners of ActionGlow, Dakota (left) and Garret Porter (right).

The former Eagle Scouts took their fundraising skills and raised just enough to apply for an LLC and begin the process of patenting their idea. In 2013, the teens took their revised design online. Within 48 hours, the entire stock they’d built sold out.

In the meantime, ”Shark Tank” was gaining popularity, and the brothers made their first audition tape in 2012 for Season 4. They didn’t make it onto the show, but a year and a half later, a producer checked in on the brothers, who were busy taking their product to trade shows and filling orders. They were asked to apply again for Season 6. The brothers obliged, only to get the call that they wouldn’t be moving forward.

“It was disappointing,” said Garret. “But we knew this wasn’t the end of our business, just this particular opportunity.”

In 2016, a familiar ring from Shark Tank producers came with a request to apply a third time for Season 8. And you know what they say about the third time being the charm?

“We were so excited. We knew this was it. We even took our parents to dinner to celebrate,” Garret said. “Unfortunately, it wasn’t.”

This kind of disappointment might plant more than a seed of doubt for many entrepreneurs, let alone two young people getting their feet wet in the business waters, but not the Porters.

“We watched our dad and mom work hard their entire lives,” said Dakota. “We never thought this would be easy. We just knew to keep working.”

As the brothers made connections in the business community and with local investors, their business continued to grow. Their product was being refined, allowing them to network with professional athletes and brand sponsors.

After high school, ActionGlow became the brothers’ full-time focus. But Garret hadn’t forgotten about the Shark Tank dream. In 2022, he filled out the application again without telling his brother. A couple of months later, a familiar email came from the show. Garret had to come clean to Dakota, and the two decided—this would be their last try. But much like the grit that comes with action sports—they gave it one big, final shot. That’s what landed the Porters on Season 14 of Shark Tank, eventually leading to the backing from “shark” Robert Herjavec, who made a $200,000 investment and took a 30% stake in the company. This was 10 years after their first audition tape.

“We don’t know what was different this time. Maybe we paid our dues,” said Garret. “But for sure, we tell young people that if they have an idea—to go ahead and do it now. There’s so much to learn and so much less to lose. Take the risk because being young is the perfect time to fail.”

/ActionGlow /actionglow 15 MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES
more products and information, visit

Plaunt Transportation

Keeping Bois Blanc Island In Touch With The Mainland For Almost A Century

For over 90 years, people living or vacationing on Bois Blanc Island have relied on Plaunt Transportation to deliver them, along with their mail and supplies, back and forth to Cheboygan. If you’re thinking that’s a lot of boat rides, you’re right. Curt Plaunt—the third generation to run the family business—estimates that since he started working on the ferry as a boy, he’s made 50,000 trips to the island.

The business started with Curt’s grandfather, Charles Plaunt, who lived on Bois Blanc with his wife, Ada. In 1932, Charles took over the contract to deliver mail from Cheboygan to the island. He transported mail and supplies on a series of three different boats—the last of which he named, appropriately enough, Ada M. Charles’ son Ray and his wife Patricia took the reins of the business in 1948. The couple had three children: Char and LeAnna (for whom the Char-Leann II was named), and Curt. In 1987, Curt

bought the business from Ray and had a ferry built in Rhode Island. In keeping with family tradition, he named the boat after a female member of his family—in this case, his daughter. Initially, 65 feet long, the Kristen D. was expanded by 30 feet in 1998, an increase that allowed the boat to carry twice as many vehicles (15 four-door pickups or cars).

In addition to mail, people, and cars, Plaunt Transportation carries everything from gasoline and propane to garbage trucks and semis. But hauling stuff isn’t all that the Kristen D. does. The crew sometimes uses the ferry for things like lighthouse tours and a fireworks cruise on the 4th of July. On Mother’s Day, every woman who rides the ferry is treated to a rose. “We do a lot more personal things than any other boat company,” Curt said. And there are plenty of unplanned events that the crew helps out with, such as when they helped rescue a foreign exchange student who had

fallen out of a tipped sailboat. Another time, the crew used their equipment to remove a tree that had fallen on the island’s community gazebo and move the gazebo’s roof to safer ground for the winter; in addition, they helped raise money to repair it.

16 MARCH 2023
Curt Plaunt, the third generation in his family to operate ferry service to Bois Blanc Island.

Plaunt is also an invaluable partner of Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op (PIE&G) of Onaway. The Kristen D. brings PIE&G workers to the island for power repairs and maintenance and hauls gasoline for their trucks and other needed supplies. Curt said he also purchased a hangar at the Bois Blanc Island Airport so that PIE&G could store their trucks and equipment there in the winter. “We have a personal relationship with most of the guys at Presque Isle,” Curt said. “They have our numbers, so they’ll call us directly when there’s an outage and ask when we can get them over there.” And Curt doesn’t necessarily wait to be asked for his assistance.

“When the power was out in December, he took a truck to the island and drove along power lines to look for downed trees,” said his daughter, Kristen.

Curt fulfills the Bois Blanc Island community’s needs with his fellow captains, Jason Plaunt (his son), Ryan McLaren (his nephew), and Travis Cronk (a close family friend). Curt said the most important part of operating Plaunt Transportation is having his family be a part of it. “I have two kids, so the chances of them going into the business were slim,” Curt said. “You can imagine how happy I was that my son and nephew wanted to join me.” Curt has six grandchildren, and he thinks one or two of them will want to continue on in the business. His grandson, Caleb, is already a deckhand.

Kristen, though not an employee of Plaunt Transportation, helps the family business out however she can, and she says that Curt’s dedication is the main reason for it’s success. Other transportation companies have come and gone from the island, and she is sure his investment in the community is the reason for their longevity. “This island means so much to my dad and his family,” she said. “They’re not just transporting cars and people on and off the boat. Plaunt has sustained because of the extra things he does and the relationships he has, and the trust he has built. Everyone knows that if they need something, Plaunt will help them get it or point them in the right direction. There is so much that they do behind the scenes.”

For more information, visit: /plaunttransportation

Approximately 65–70 people reside on Bois Blanc Island year-round, with an estimated 1,000 to 1,250 visiting during the summer. Islanders are familiar with gale-force winds and fierce storms that occur in the Straits of Mackinac. These storms can wreak havoc on power lines and trees on the island. Although most year-round residents have standby generators, PIE&G relies on Plaunt's to transport its line crews, trucks and equipment to the island so they can make repairs and restore electricity after storms happen.

Fresh Air Aviation serves Bois Blanc Island from Cheboygan and is another means of transportation to the island. PIE&G also relies on air service to reach the island to restore power, especially during winter months. While Plaunt's runs daily from May 1 through November, its service may be limited as winter sets in. The ferry suspends service from January to March due to heavy icing when water spray freezes on the boat. There are also a few days during spring and late fall when sailing is postponed due to rough lake conditions and high seas. That's when airplane service is needed.

“Everyone knows that if they need something, Plaunt will help them get it or point them in the right direction. There is so much that they do behind the scenes.”

Mystery Photo

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Michigan Is This?

Identify the correct location of the photo above by March 24 and be entered into a drawing to win a $100 electric bill credit. Enter your guess at

Nature Memories

January 2023 Winner! Our Mystery Photo winner is Jason DeLille, a Midwest Energy & Communications Cooperative member, who correctly identified the photo as Michigan State University Beaumont Tower in East Lansing. Winners are announced in the following issues of Country Lines: January, March, May, July/ August, September, and November/December.


rowing up, our family always kept a flower garden. It was filled with roses, dahlias, and peonies. The Peace rose was my dad’s favorite. He was a WWII veteran, and that rose was named for the celebration of the war ending.

He often traveled for his job and asked me to be the keeper of the garden. I mixed the soil with peat and fertilizer and sprayed the insecticides. I sang to those plants; a chorus of colors sang back. Dusk stepped up the deep-root water soaking. Birds danced in the mist. This garden gave me inspiration for my studies in art and design.

We lived in central Michigan at the edge of the hardwood tree line made by glacier—glaciers over a thousand feet in height. It is a vast land of smooth stones and forest that stops abruptly and then turns to flat, fertile, sandy lands, where sugar beets and potatoes are grown and processed. Evening breezes send the perfume of the potatoes, the beets, and the sulphur of the oil wells. There is a calming rhythm of a well’s pumping, “haw hee...pap pap pap.” A small sludge pond shimmers with a film of blue-green iridescence. Raccoon tracks a hint of last night’s activities.

Come spring, a few abandoned apple trees open their soft, white blossoms. The summer brings sunflowers, purple thistles, and cattails, and intricate colored geometries to our beloved landscape. These forms were the models for my botanical sketch studies. Memories became companions.

This evening I will be tending my garden. Dusk blends its forms and colors. From the corner of my eye, I might catch a flutter and hear the barred owl high in the pines, “whoo choo ha whoo.” The songbirds and purple martins will flit about in the spray of the sprinklers. Later the bats will take over the landscape. Spiders will reweave their webs in the glistening wet grass. My dad, rest in peace, will have a presence there.

About the Author: John is a retired architect and designed prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan for 12 years in the war. He enjoys painting watercolors and cooking with his wife, Mary Louise.

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18 MARCH 2023
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Powering Up After An Outage

When the power goes out, we expect it to be restored within a few hours. But when a major storm or natural disaster causes widespread damage, extended outages may result. Our line crews work long, hard hours to restore service safely to the greatest number of consumers in the shortest time possible. Here’s what’s going on if you find yourself in the dark:

1. High-Voltage Transmission Lines:

Transmission towers and cables that supply power to transmission substations (and thousands of members) rarely fail. But when damaged, these facilities must be repaired before other parts of the system can operate.

2. Distribution Substation:

A substation can serve hundreds or thousands of consumers. When a major outage occurs, line crews inspect substations to determine if problems stem from transmission lines feeding into the substation, the substation itself, or if problems exist further down the line.

3. Main Distribution Lines:

If the problem cannot be isolated at a distribution substation, distribution lines are checked. These lines carry power to large groups of consumers in communities or housing developments.

4. Tap Lines:

If local outages persist, supply lines (also known as tap lines) are inspected. These lines deliver power to transformers, either mounted on poles or placed on pads for underground service, outside businesses, schools, and homes.

5. Individual Homes:

If your home remains without power, the service line between a transformer and your residence may need to be repaired. Always call to report an outage to help line crews isolate a local issue. /PIEGCooperative
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