May 2019 Great Lakes

Page 1

May 2019


COUNTRY LINES Great Lakes Energy Cooperative

UP IN THE AIR Michigan Sky Media’s Aerial Photography

Safety With Electricity

GLE Volunteers With Habitat For Humanity Vande Bunte Eggs: It’s For The Birds


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In This Issue May 2019 || Vol. 39, No. 5


Michigan’s Electric Cooperatives



Your photo could be featured here. michigancountrylines

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Executive Editor: Casey Clark Editor: Christine Dorr

Come share in the splendor of rural Michigan with us

Copy Editor: Heidi Spencer Design and Production: Karreen Bird 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 are Robert Kran, Great Lakes Energy, chairman; Mark Kappler, HomeWorks Tri-County Electric, vice chairman; and Eric Baker, Wolverine Power Cooperative, secretarytreasurer. Craig Borr is president and CEO. CONTACT US/LETTERS TO EDITOR: Michigan Country Lines 201 Townsend St., Suite 900 Lansing, MI 48933 248-534-7358


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.

michigancountrylines Pro tip: Water and electricity don’t mix...unless you are mother nature. #donttrythisathome #beautiful : @andrew_long_expo

ON THE COVER Tyler Leipprandt, photographer and owner of Michigan Sky Media, captures a dangling shot of Michigan’s most iconic landmark, the Mackinac Bridge. Read the full story about his spectacular aerial drone photography on page 14.

6 & 7 MI CO-OP COMMUNITY Guest Columns 62 Years Of Michigan Marriage Linda McCoy, Cherryland Electric Cooperative Michigan’s Fishery Is Nature’s School Rick Fowler, Great Lakes Energy

10 MI CO-OP KITCHEN Breakfast And Brunch Recipes To Enjoy All Day Long


Feature Guest Chef

Tyler Leipprandt of Michigan Sky Media, shares a family favorite Pudgy Pie campfire recipe. Enter Our Recipe Contest And Win A $50 Bill Credit!

14 FEATURE Up In The Air

Michigan Sky Media’s Aerial Photography Emily Haines Lloyd

18 SAFETY May Is Electrical Safety Month

Life-Saving Tips From Your Co-op Guess Our New Mystery Photo And Win A $50 Bill Credit!

Christin McKamey & Our Readers

Michigan Country Lines, Your Communications Partner For more than 38 years, our co-op members have received Michigan Country Lines because it is the most effective and economical way to share information with our members. An empowering communication tool, Michigan Country Lines keeps members up-to-date about everything going on within their electric co-op. Issues contain news about our services, director elections, member meetings and management decisions that members need to know about as owners of the co-op. The magazine also includes legal notices that would otherwise have to be placed in local media at a substantial cost. Sending Michigan Country Lines to you helps the co-op fulfill one of its essential principles——to educate and communicate openly with its members. The board of directors authorizes the co-op to subscribe to Michigan Country Lines on behalf of each member at an average cost of $3.90 per year, paid as part of members’ electric bills. The current magazine cost is 49 cents per copy. Michigan Country Lines is published for us, at cost, by the Michigan Electric Cooperative Association in Lansing. As always, we welcome and value your comments at



Safety With Electricity

Board of Directors

Mark Carson Chairman, District 2

01950 Anderson Rd., Boyne City, MI 49712 231-675-0561 •

John LaForge Vice-Chairman, District 9 7363 Walters Rd., Delton, MI 49046 269-623-2284 •

Paul Schemanski Secretary, District 1 5974 Stolt Rd., Petoskey, MI 49770 231-439-9079 •

Larry Monshor Treasurer, District 4 1541 Thumm Rd., Gaylord, MI 49735 989-705-1778 •

Tim Brechon Director, District 8

22322 220th Ave., Paris, MI 49338 630-379-6218 •

Paul Byl Director, District 7

9941 W. Buchanan Rd., Shelby, MI 49455 231-861-5911 •

Richard Evans Director, District 3 11195 Essex Rd., Ellsworth, MI 49729 231-883-3146 •

Dale Farrier Director, District 5

2261 Wheeler Lake Rd. NE, Kalkaska, MI 49646 231-564-0853 •

Robert Kran Director, District 6

7380 N. Tuttle Rd., Free Soil, MI 49411 231-464-5889 •

President/CEO: Bill Scott 888-485-2537

Communications Director/Editor: Lacey Matthews 231-487-1316

Bill Scott, Great Lakes Energy President/CEO


ay is Electrical Safety Month and a good time to refresh our habits and actions to ensure we’re safely using electricity every day.

GLE employees depend upon a thorough knowledge of safety practices especially when it comes to electrical safety. Personal protective equipment, like rubber gloves and flame-resistant clothing, is always worn on job sites. Our safety team works diligently to eliminate risks and create a more secure workplace. For the community, we host events within schools and for other groups to educate them on how to use electricity more responsibly. It is still good for those of us who do not work directly with power lines to be aware of the steps we can take to be safer with the electricity we use. Our lives are often centered around the ability to use electricity. Everyday items we don’t give much thought to—the lights brightening our rooms, the power-strip running all the cords for our media devices, appliances we use within the home—are all powered by electricity. With this power also comes the responsibility to ensure our safety and the safety of those around us. Below are some safety tips to help you and your family stay safe around electricity.


Regularly check cords for fraying or cracking and replace as needed. Never place cords under rugs or furniture, as this poses a potential for overheating and tripping.

Boyne City Headquarters 1323 Boyne Ave., P.O. Box 70 Boyne City, MI 49712 Hours: 8 a.m.–4:30 p.m. M–F Phone: 888-485-2537 Email:

To report an outage, call: 1-888-485-2537


Double check appliances, lamps, and fixtures to see what wattage they require. Not marked? A good rule of thumb is 60-watt bulbs or less in unmarked light fixtures and 25-watt for unmarked ceilings.

Change of Address: 888-485-2537, ext. 8924 Great Lakes Energy is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

4 MAY 2019


Tidy up loose cords to avoid tripping, chewing, tugging. Be sure to cap outlets to keep tiny fingers and paws safe.


Only one high-wattage appliance per outlet and remember that power strips only give more outlets, not more power.


Stay away from downed power lines. Be aware of overhead lines when using ladders, trimming trees, or working on roofs. And if you come across a downed power line, report it to us immediately.

Join before June 1 to be entered to win a $100 bill credit! Call 888-485-2537 or visit to join.


Big Sable Point Lighthouse


ig Sable Point Lighthouse has been a landmark of the Ludington community for 150 years, but in the 1980s its future wasn’t at all certain. It had started to fall into disrepair, but members of the community volunteered their time and resources to preserve it. Thanks to a $3,000 People Fund grant awarded in 2018, the Sable Point Lighthouse Keepers Association was able to continue restoration efforts of the historic landmark. You can learn more about the preservation and history of the lighthouse on our blog: People Fund grants are funded by “extra change” from Great Lakes Energy members who have their bill rounded up to the next dollar. Want to make an even bigger impact in your local community? Join the People Fund Plus and, in addition to your rounded-up amount, you can choose an extra donation amount. Working together, we can help our communities. Call or visit us online to support the People Fund. Join before June 1 to be entered to win a $100 bill credit.

Saturday, June 1 from 10 a.m. to noon. Holiday Inn Convention Center East Ballroom 4079 W. U.S. 10, Ludington • Learn about home heating and cooling options with geothermal and air-source heat pumps, and Energy Optimization (EO) programs that offer incentives to help members save energy including: • Rebates for the purchase of furnaces with variable speed blower motors. • Heat pump water heaters. • Wi-Fi-enabled or smart occupancysensing thermostats, refrigerators, televisions, lighting and more. • Information on free online audits. • Learn about other incentive programs offered by Great Lakes Energy.

Access To Rules And Rates Please be advised that the following information is available to Great Lakes Energy members: 1. Complete rate schedules; 2. Clear and concise explanation of all rates that the member may be eligible to receive; 3. Assistance from the cooperative in determining the most appropriate rate for a member when the member is eligible to receive service under more than one rate; 4. Clear and concise explanation of the members’ actual energy use for each billing period during the last 12 months. The information can be obtained by visiting or contacting Great Lakes Energy at 1-888-485-2537.

• Local heating and cooling companies and Great Lakes Energy staff members on hand to answer heat pump questions. • Door prizes will be awarded for energysaving gifts.

Space is limited, so please register by calling 1-888-485-2537, ext. 8958, or email: MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES



MI CO-OP Community

62 Years Of Michigan Marriage By Linda McCoy, Cherryland Electric Cooperative member


n July 7, 1957, as young newlyweds, we headed north from Indiana to see the sights.

and Spider Lake. The Driftwood Motel was our destination for many years. We stayed in condos after the Driftwood was no more. As a family of 17, we’ve experienced all the amenities the Traverse City area has to offer.

Our first stop was seven miles west of Kalkaska, Michigan into the Sand Lakes quiet area. Greatgrandpa McCoy was alone now at the nicknamed Visiting Underwood and Rennie orchards in “Bitzy” cabin where he and Great-grandma had July and mushroom hunting in the spring. Our spent many summers. It was a one-room log activities included climbing the dunes, rafting cabin with a hand pump on the porch and an down Crystal River, air shows on East Bay, outhouse out back. They fished the many area Parasailing, bicycling, marching lakes. I wondered how in the band concerts, horseback riding 1940s did they ever find this “Five families of at Ranch Rudolph, fishing and the secluded place? McCoys have an famous Cherry Festival parade. interest and still enjoy We again headed north to see Michigan vacations.” The “Bitzy” cabin was torn the great Mackinac Bridge. We down due to deteriorating logs marveled during the tour that and rebuilt in the ‘90s by the family as vacation took us under the bridge which had one span left to complete before joining Lower Michigan and the time permitted. It is now modern, which was a significant event, complete with power from Upper Peninsula. Cherryland Electric Cooperative. Five families of McCoys have an interest and still enjoy We had little money to spend, but we took in Michigan vacations. many first-time sights, and this would be the beginning of a lifetime of Michigan adventures. The once-newlyweds will celebrate over 62 years It was our home away from home. of marriage in July, and our lifetime memories of happy days with family throughout Michigan Our three children would know Michigan, as well bring us joy. as their spouses and our nine grandchildren. We camped in the early years at Interlochen and Glen Arbor. We rented cottages on Little Glen Linda has lived in Northeast Indiana for all of her 79 years. She is a retired beautician and enjoys caring for families in her community. and Big Glen, and years later at Lake Leelanau

6 MAY 2019

Michigan’s Fishery Is Nature’s School By Rick Fowler, Great Lakes Energy member


t 5 a.m. on any of the bodies of water I venture to, be it a lake, river, stream, or pond, I am inundated with a myriad of sounds. The slow, rhythmic lap of waves reaching the shore after a night of travel is indeed soothing early in the morning.

way toward the inlet. The rapid flow of water cascades down boulders forming a chaotic scene as it bubbles back up. My line remains steady in the calm water beyond the little falls. I remember not too many years ago bringing my two children here. Armed with fishing gear, Barbies and GI Joes, we had claimed our spot. Amid the yelps of lucky fishermen and those who weren’t so lucky, I heard the laughter of my kids. Today, even though both are now in their late twenties, I can still get them to “wet a line” with me.

The plop of fish on calm waters just before the sun breaks makes an angler’s heart race. The head turns quickly in an attempt to see what it was that raised so quickly and, like an Olympic diver, reenter with “The memories, the Every so often I feel like a little only splash rings remaining, stories, the sights that wave that thought his purpose spreading like oil on the water. a morning offers keep was gone when he reached In fact, when the boat engine is me trickling back to the sandy shore. However, the cut or the paddles raised, the Michigan waters to fish.” memories, the stories, the sights serenity of a moment like this is that a morning offers keep me spine-tingling. trickling back to Michigan waters to fish. I have this sense that if I don’t, it will be the end of something. With a headlamp, waders, rod, small tackle box, flies and other bait, I descend the muddy bank of my favorite river. The eastern sky is lit brightly with Rick taught high school English in Boyne City for 34 years. For the past an easel of colors, making my climb down to the 25 years, he has been an outdoor freelance writer. waters edge flashlight free. The squish and clomp of my wading boots seem to be twenty decibels higher than they need to be. As I approach, there is an eerie screech reverberating from the tree Win $150 for stories published! line. The Blue Herons’ hollering momentarily blocks out the roar of the rushing water. As I near, the finger pier is empty of anglers on this particular morning. Many fishermen will be approaching the mouth soon to test their skill against the steelhead that are now making their

Guest Column: Country Lines invites members to submit their fond memories and stories. For guidelines and to submit your guest column go to under the MI Co-op Community tab.



Efficiency. Savings. Comfort. Up to 50 percent of the heated air in a typical manufactured home can leak from the ductwork into the crawl space below the home. In most cases, this leakage is the number one source of energy loss and a major cause for comfort complaints. Our Energy Optimization Manufactured Homes Program is available to help our members improve their homes while saving energy and money, all at no cost to the resident/homeowner.

How Does The Program Work? A professional trained contractor will come to your home to: • Test and seal your home’s heating and cooling system ductwork

ideas. All work will be completed in a high quality manner in one day or less.

Eligibility Requirements • Must be a member of Great Lakes Energy Cooperative • There is no income limit to qualify. • Own the manufactured home or, if you are a tenant, must have owner’s permission to have work done on the home, prior to work beginning. • Willing to sign a document to allow work to be done on the home by professional, trained contractors. • The manufactured home must still be on wheels, or have a crawl space under it, enclosed with skirting. (No permanent foundations)

• Provide water and energy-saving items

Would you like to improve the comfort and energy performance of your manufactured home, and reduce your electricity bills? Contact us today to schedule your free services.

In addition, the contractor will provide valuable information on how your home operates along with energy-saving

Visit, email, or call 877.296.4319 to sign up today.

• Install energy efficient light bulbs

Efficiency. Savings. Comfort.


Sign up today for a professional, trained contractor to: • Test and seal your home’s heating and cooling system ductwork • Install energy efficient LED light bulbs • Install water- and energy-saving items All work will be completed in a high quality manner in one day or less, at no cost to you.

Schedule your FREE services today. • 877.296.4319

Energy Optimization programs and incentives are applicable to Michigan electric service locations only. Other restrictions may apply. For a complete list of participating utilities, visit

GLE Photo Contest

Most Votes On Facebook!



3 4


Spring Flowers 1. Her Majesty, the Spring!— Judi Bojanowski, Branch 2. Ramshead Lady Slipper— Dave Christiansen, Charlevoix 3. Crab Apple Blossoms— Sharron Hemme, Petoskey 4. A River Runs Through It— Michelle Harris, Grayling 5. Tulips in the Morning Light— Liz Hainstock, Manistee 6. Sunflower—Matt Sonza, Middleville


Submit Your “Four-Legged Friends” Photos!

Enter to win a

Each month members can submit photos on Facebook or our website for our annual photo contest. The photo with the most votes on Facebook is published here along with other selections.


energy bill credit!

Our May contest theme is Four-Legged Friends. Photos can be submitted by May 20 to be featured in the July/August issue.

How To Enter:

Visit and click “Photo Contest” from the menu tabs. Not on Facebook? You can also enter the contest at Make sure to vote and encourage others to vote for you, too. The photo receiving the most votes from our online and Facebook contest will be printed in an issue of Michigan Country Lines along with some of our other favorites. All photos printed in the magazine in 2019 will be entered to win a $200 bill credit in December 2019.



Breakfast & Brunch Start your day right with these savory and sweet recipes. Photos by Robert Bruce Photography

Winning Recipe!

Little Masterpieces (Homemade Doughnuts) Kris Hazeres, Alger Delta ½ 3 1¼ 1½

cup vegetable oil large eggs cups granulated sugar cups applesauce, mashed bananas, puréed strawberries, or puréed fruit of choice teaspoons vanilla extract teaspoon ground cinnamon, optional (good with apple or banana flavored doughnuts) teaspoons salt teaspoons baking powder cups + 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour granulated sugar or cinnamon-sugar, for coating

a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. If making muffins, bake for 20—23 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease two standard doughnut pans. Note: If you don’t have doughnut pans, you can bake these in a standard muffin tin.

Note: these store well in the freezer. When it’s time to serve, pop them in the microwave for a minute or so, then plate them and fill with ice cream, fruit, pie filling, etc., for an over-the-top looking treat in just a few minutes!

1½ 1 1½ 1½ 1¾ •

Beat together oil, eggs, sugar, puréed fruit, vanilla, cinnamon, salt, and baking powder until smooth. Add flour, stirring just until smooth. Fill wells of the doughnut pans nearly to the rim; use about ¼ cup of batter in each well. If using muffin pans, fill each well about ¾ full; the recipe makes about 15, so you’ll need to bake in two batches (unless you have two muffin pans). Bake doughnuts for 15—18 minutes, or until 10 MAY 2019

Remove doughnuts from oven, and loosen edges. After about 5 minutes, transfer to a rack. While doughnuts are still warm (but no longer fragile), gently shake them, 1 or 2 at a time, in a clean paper bag or baggie with sugar. If you’ve made muffins, sprinkle tops with sugar. Cool completely, and wrap airtight; store at room temperature for several days. To make fancy doughnuts: fill the hole in each doughnut with choice of ice cream, pudding, mousse, sliced fruit, etc. Top with sauce; add whipped cream if desired.

Watch a video of this month’s winning recipe at

Simple Savory Corn Cakes Deb Finedell, Great Lakes Energy 2 1 ½ 2 1 1 2 1 4 2 1 •


cups all-purpose flour teaspoon baking powder teaspoon salt cups frozen corn, thawed cup (4 ounces) smoked cheddar cheese, shredded cup fat-free (skim) milk egg whites, beaten whole egg, beaten green onions, finely chopped cloves garlic, minced tablespoon chili powder salsa

GUEST CHEF As Tyler Leipprandt of Michigan Sky Media and his family spend their summers camping across Michigan, they know that yummy campfire food is all part of the memorymaking. And no campfire cuisine is complete without a Pudgy Pie.

Combine flour, baking powder and salt in large bowl with a wire whisk. Stir in corn, cheese, milk, egg whites, egg, green onions, garlic, and chili powder until well blended. Spray a large nonstick

skillet with nonstick cooking spray. Heat over medium-high heat. Drop batter by ¼ cupfuls into skillet. Cook 3 minutes per side or until golden brown. Serve with prepared salsa, if desired.

Sausage And Kale Frittata

3 ½ 2 1½ 4

Katie Schneider, Midwest Energy & Communications 8 ¼ ¼ ¹⁄ ³

large eggs teaspoon salt teaspoon black pepper cup milk

cups kale, stems removed, leaves chopped cup chopped red onion cloves garlic, finely chopped or crushed teaspoons olive oil ounces Italian turkey sausage, cooked and crumbled ½ cup chopped red bell pepper 2 tomatoes, ¼-inch round slices, cut in half

Combine eggs, salt, pepper, and milk; stir with a whisk. Heat a 9-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Sauté kale, red onion, and garlic in olive oil until tender. Layer in sausage and bell pepper. Carefully pour egg mixture over sausage and bell pepper. Preheat broiler to high. Place tomato slices on top of eggs in a single layer. Cook over medium heat, 5 to 6 minutes, or until eggs are partially set; then broil 5 inches from heat for 2 to 3 minutes or until browned and almost set. Let rest 10 minutes before serving.

Tailgating Favorites: due July 1 Venison: due August 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. Go to for more information and to register.

Enter to win a


energy bill credit!

Photo by Tyler Leipprandt

Pudgy Pies • • • •

Refrigerated tube biscuits Cooking spray Pudding or pie filling Wooden dowels

Use a 5-inch diameter wooden dowel attached to a roasting stick and spray wooden dowel with cooking spray. Flatten and stretch one biscuit over the end of the dowel. Roast over the fire slowly until biscuit cup is cooked through. Let cool and carefully remove from the dowel. Fill the biscuit cup with your favorite pudding or pie filling or make as a s’more with a roasted marshmallow and chocolate. Read the full story about Tyler Leipprandt on page 14, and find this recipe and others at



Commitment To Community


ooperative organizations across the country share many traits, but some of the most foundational are seven shared principles that guide how we operate. One of those principles we enthusiastically focus on at Great Lakes Energy is Concern for Community. In March the Northwest Michigan Habitat for Humanity contacted us to help finish construction on the home of a local family. It’s a priority for us to ensure that employees are empowered to give back to their communities, and we were happy to dedicate three groups of GLE employees to the project. The groups hung doors, painted and installed trim, as well as other tasks to help complete a home.

Three employee teams helped Northwest Michigan Habitat for Humanity perform construction work at a home in Boyne City in March.

Ultimately, it’s you—our members— that make all this possible. We’re humbled and pleased to be part of our local communities, and we’ll continue to invest time and resources to help strengthen and make them a better place to live and work.

Spring into Gigabit Fiber Internet Register Now for Free Installation!* Truestream, powered by Great Lakes Energy, is building Michigan's biggest, most powerful fiber network. Spring is here, and we want you to enjoy streaming, surfing, downloading, video-calling, and more, all at seamless, Gigabit speed. Let us know if your community is ready for blazing-fast fiber internet. We’re offering free installation* for anyone who registers their interest before construction in their area is finished.

Learn more at or call 1-888-485-2537 *Certain restrictions apply. If construction for your area is completed before registering your interest in Truestream, a $149 installation charge will apply. Visit for construction timelines.

Michigan’s free & easy utility notification system. For your safety and for the protection of underground utility lines, always follow these steps before starting any digging project: 1. Contact MISS DIG at 811 or 2. Wait three business days for utility owners to mark their lines. 3. Respect the marks. 4. Dig with care.

Visit for more information. MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES 13

UP IN THE AIR Michigan Sky Media’s Aerial Photography By Emily Haines Lloyd

very artist finds a way to show others the world from a different perspective. For Tyler Leipprandt, photographer and owner of Michigan Sky Media, his perspective often comes from hundreds of feet in the air with his drone photography. Leipprandt never saw himself as an artist in his earlier life or even once he began working in drone photography for the commercial sector. An athlete growing up, Leipprandt spent most of his time in the gym and didn’t really see art as part of his future plans. Currently, he spends his days in education, instructing teachers how to integrate and use technology in the classroom. “It was my brother who got me interested in drone photography,” said Leipprandt. “No one in our area was really doing aerial shots for real estate, so that’s where I started. We did well in real estate, but I began to see how fun it was to use the drone in other ways.” Snapping cool photos around the state opened Leipprandt’s eyes to all sorts of opportunities; including a visit to the Port Austin Farmers Market where he saw some beautifully handcrafted cutting boards in the shape of Michigan that he noticed people admiring. The very next year, Leipprandt was back at the market, but in his own stall selling his photos that paid homage to

14 MAY 2019


Top left: Lake of the Clouds at sunrise. Top Right: This photo named “Don’t Look Down,” placed in the Top 25 in his category at Grand Rapids’ Art Prize competition. Bottom Left: Tahquamenon Falls at twilight. This Page: Leipprandt in the midst of capturing one of his signature dangling shots.

If you want to see more of Tyler Leipprandt’s amazing photography, visit him Saturdays at the Port Austin Farmers Market from Memorial Day through Fall (9am–5pm) or check out his portfolio at He can also be found on Facebook and Instagram @michiganskymedia.

the Great Lakes state. Last year he made the Top 25 in his category at Grand Rapids’ Art Prize competition.

was flying 120mph with the doors off. I’ve never been so cold in my life.”

“These are the places that locals have spent their vacations and spare time exploring all their lives,” said Leipprandt. “Places that you’ve seen a million times, but captured in a totally different way.”

Not all of Leipprandt’s excursions are quite so daredevilish. He, his wife and their four kids spend a good part of their summers exploring Michigan based on year-long pins they’ve stuck in a map. Before dinner, during grace, the kids never forget to say an extra prayer for an RV they can take around the state to cover more ground and capture even more beautiful memories.

Leipprandt’s photos are stunning, from twilight shots of Tahquamenon Falls to aerial feats over The Mighty Mac and University of Michigan’s Big House. Including Leipprandt’s now-signature shots of his feet dangling over the edge of bridges or from the sides of helicopters. “The dangling shots started by accident when my brotherin-law and I went to the U.P. last fall and through some wild circumstances ended up being invited to the top of the Mackinac Bridge,” Leipprandt said. “The Big House pictures were for a marketing promo—it was almost Thanksgiving, about 30 degrees outside and the helicopter

It’s that sense of exploration and curiosity that Leipprandt brings to his photography. The joy of seeing something unique and beautiful that not everyone has an opportunity to experience for themselves. “I love making people excited about where they’re from and what’s around them,” explains Leipprandt. “I want to help folks find new places they can explore for themselves.”

MCL SOCIAL MEDIA TAKEOVER! Watch Tyler Leipprandt as he does a live takeover of Michigan Country Lines’ social accounts, May 6–10. He’ll bring you some amazing, neverbefore-seen shots of the 2019 Tulip Time Festival in Holland, Mich.

May 6–10



It’s For The Birds By Brittany Kielbasa


n the rural heart of west Michigan, an impressive hen house serves as the main nest for a thirdgeneration family farm. For the Vande Bunte family, this nest nurtures 2 million of out 3.4 million hens in their total operation, producing just under 1 billion eggs per year. It’s one of the United States’ leading egg producing companies, feeding families from coast-to-coast.

Hatched From Humble Beginnings

In 1946, Vande Bunte Eggs had one employee—owner, operator, and founder Howard Vande Bunte. Howard got his start filling his truck with eggs purchased from local West Michigan farmers, packaging them, and selling them to local grocery stores, restaurants, and even going door-to-door. What began as a one-man operation has grown to a thriving operation employing more than 200 employees in Michigan and Illinois. In the mid-80s, the business introduced new leadership in the form of Howard’s sons Tim and Paul, who then brought their nephews into the business—Rob Knecht in 2011 and Adam Dickerson in 2016. Knecht, the company’s vice president of operations, represents the third generation of a family business committed to more than simply producing eggs—they operate with unwavering commitment to their hens, their customers, and their family. 16 MAY 2019

Adam Dickerson

We feel like energy optimization is an important step towards sustainability and that’s a priority for us.

Rob Knecht

—Rob Knecht

Hens At The Heart Of The Operation

also prioritize the environment. For nearly a decade, the company has been investing in its facilities to improve energy efficiency. “We feel like energy optimization is an important step towards sustainability and that’s a priority for us,” said Knecht. “We strive to surpass the standard and really go past that to be a leader on that front—and we want to empower our staff to take these steps.”

Vande Bunte Eggs’ three locations are home to more than 3.4 million hens responsible for producing traditional large white eggs, cagefree eggs, and organic eggs distributed across the country. The company prides themselves on the care taken to ensure that they raise happy, healthy hens. “For us, animal welfare is always at the forefront,” said Knecht. “When the hens are at their happiest and healthiest, they produce the best quality eggs. It’s best for the birds and our customers.”

Supporting Knecht with this priority is the company’s energy provider, Great Lakes Energy. Along with power supplier Wolverine Power Cooperative, Great Lakes Energy provides members like Vande Bunte Eggs with power that is more than 60 percent carbon-free. “Our relationship with the co-op has been outstanding,” said Knecht. “We want to lead when it comes to energy optimization and environmental stewardship as it relates to sustainability, and we feel like Great Lakes Energy is a partner that can help us do that.”

At Vande Bunte Eggs, there is a passion for the eggs that goes beyond production. “There is intrinsic value to what we do here,” said Knecht. “We are providing one of the highest quality proteins and doing it efficiently, safely, and in a way that always prioritizes treating the birds in a manner that gives our product integrity. We’re proud of what we do.”

Vande Bunte Eggs’ special considerations for the birds’ diet and environment have earned them a collection of certifications and endorsements including United Egg Producers and USDA Organic certifications, as well as the Certified Humane designation. In addition, their cagefree hens live in an environment certified by the American Humane Association. “We try to have the best blend between product integrity and animal welfare as well as being efficient and cost competitive,” said Knecht. “The marriage of making those two things the top priority is something that sets us apart.”

Laying A Strong Foundation For The Future

While animal welfare and maintaining a competitive operation for their customers are the top priorities for Vande Bunte Eggs, they

A Bright Future

With egg consumption at an all-time high, the future is bright for Vande Bunte Eggs. From door-to-door egg sales to what is now one of the leading egg producers in the United States, Vande Bunte Eggs has enjoyed tremendous growth throughout their nearly 75-year history. The company plans to build on that foundation and continue to produce the finest eggs with the best hens that they’ve become known for over the past seven decades.

To learn more about Vande Bunte Eggs visit, or visit to learn more about how Great Lakes Energy members are making a difference.


Guess this photo and enter to win a


energy bill credit!

May Is Electrical Safety Month

Electric cooperatives’ top priority is always to provide safe, reliable, and affordable energy to their members. Your well-being and that of the larger communities we serve are of paramount concern. This month, we share a few safety tips that we hope you never have to use. But if you do, they could save their life.

Where In Michigan Is This? Identify the correct location of the photo above by May 20 and be entered into a drawing to win a $50 electric bill credit. Enter your guess at or send by mail to: Country Lines Mystery Photo, 201 Townsend St., Suite 900, Lansing, MI 48933. Include the name on your account, address, phone number and the name of your co-op. Our Mystery Photo Contest winner from the March issue is Steven ZisslerHayes, a Thumb Electric Co-op member, who correctly identified the photo as Saint John Nepomucene Catholic Church Historical Marker. This church was established in 1885 and is located in East Jordan. Winners are announced in the following issues of Country Lines: January, March, May, July/August, September and November/December.

March 2019

Life-Saving Tips That Can Save Your Life • If a car hits a utility pole, the vehicle may be charged with electricity. Anyone exiting the car could come in contact with thousands of volts of electricity from the downed line. In essence, when you step out of the car, you become part of the electricity’s path to the ground and could be electrocuted. It’s critical for everyone to stay in the vehicle until emergency crews have told you it’s safe to exit the car. • If the vehicle is on fire or you must exit for other safety reasons, jump clear of the vehicle. Do not let any part of your body or clothing touch the vehicle and ground at the same time. Land with your feet together and shuffle away (in small steps with your feet still together) to avoid electric shock. Keep moving away until you are at least 40 feet from the vehicle. • If you come upon a car accident involving a utility pole and downed power lines, keep your distance. A downed power line can energize the ground up to 35 feet away. The best action you can take is to alert emergency officials. Also, never drive over a downed power line or through water that is touching a downed power line. • If you have a downed power line on your property as a result of a falling tree, storm or other circumstance, do not go near the power line. Assume that the downed line is energized and dangerous. Never try to move the power line even if you think it’s not energized or if you are using a non-conductive material. Please wait until an electric co-op crew or emergency officials have confirmed that it is safe to do so. Contact your local electric co-op for additional electrical safety tips or if you would like to request a safety demonstration at your school or community event. Safety is a top priority!

Photo by Thomas Mann

18 MAY 2019

Hybrid Geothermal





of yo u energ r y is carbo n-fre e

Find out how the Vande Buntes and other members like you are using opportunities from Great Lakes Energy to make a difference in their communities at