COUNTRY LINES Ontonagon County Rural Electrification Association
Attend The Annual Meeting Saturday, June 19
Two Director Seats Up For Election Saving The Gators At Critchlow Alligator Sanctuary
Four Generations Contribute To The Swanson Pickle Co.
WATERFURNACE UNITS QUALIFY FOR A 26% FEDERAL TAX CREDIT THROUGH 2022
Not hearing is believing.
Many homeowners have come to accept that a noisy A/C is a fact of life. But with WaterFurnace, you don’t have to settle. Nothing can disrupt a perfect summer afternoon in your backyard more than a loud air conditioner. Geothermal users are never disturbed from outside HVAC noise because there’s no outdoor equipment to make any. All the complicated work takes place underground—out of earshot. With WaterFurnace, your peace and quiet is assured. To learn more, contact your local WaterFurnace dealer today. Geothermal is the only renewable that provides reliable operation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Your Local WaterFurnace Dealers Bad Axe/Cass City Thumb Clg & Htg (855) 206-5457 thumbcooling andheating.com Berrien Springs WaterFurnace Michiana (269) 473-5667 gogreenmich geothermal.com Big Rapids Stratz Htg & Clg, Inc. (231) 796-3717 stratzgeocomfort.com
Clifford Orton Refrig & Htg (989) 761-7691 sanduskygeothermal.com Hart Adams Htg & Clg (231) 873-2665 adamsheatingcooling.com Indian River M & M Plmb & Htg (231) 238-7201 mm-plumbing.com
Mancelona Top Notch Htg, Clg, & Geothermal (231) 350-8052 topnotchheatandair.com Michigan Center Comfort 1/Aire Serv of Southern Michigan (517) 764-1500 aireserv.com/ southern-michigan Mt Pleasant Walton Htg & Clg (989) 772-4822 waltonheating.com
Muskegon Adams Htg & Clg (231) 873-2665 adamsheatingcooling.com
Traverse City D & W Mechanical (231) 941-1215 dwgeothermal.com
Portland ESI Htg & Clg (517) 647-6906 esiheating.com
Geofurnace Htg & Clg (231) 943-1000 watergeofurnace.com
Sunfield Mark Woodman Plmb & Htg (517) 886-1138 mwphonline.com
visit us at waterfurnace.com
The Reliable Renewable is a trademark of WaterFurnace International, Inc.
May 2021 Vol. 41, No. 5
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 email@example.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.
Michigan Country Lines, Your Communications Partner For more than 40 years, our co-op members have received Michigan Country Lines because it is the most effective and economical way to share information. Michigan Country Lines keeps members up-to-date about everything going on within their electric co-op. Issues contain news about co-op 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 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 $4.15 per year, paid as part of members’ electric bills. The current magazine cost is 52 cents per copy. Michigan Country Lines is published, at cost, by the Michigan Electric Cooperative Association in Lansing. As always, we welcome your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
6 THE MICHIGAN STATE CAPITOL WENT GEOTHERMAL–– SHOULD YOU? Geothermal power helps you save money, be greener and earn tax credits. 10 MI CO-OP KITCHEN Garden Fresh: These scrumptious dishes make fresh veggies the star of the show.
14 FOUR GENERATIONS CONTRIBUTE TO PICKLE LEGACY For Swanson Pickling Co. in Ravenna, growing and distributing cucumbers is a family affair. 18 GUEST COLUMN Hidden Northern Michigan Treasure For All Ages: The history of beautiful Kitch-iti-kipi spring in the U.P.
Spring is in the sky! @abeardedshooter (Matt Hunter)
Use #micoopcommunity for a chance to be featured here and on our Instagram account.
MI CO-OP COMMUNITY
To enter contests, submit reader content & more, visit countrylines.com/community
Win a $50 bill credit! Up Next: Around The World, due Aug. 1; Instant Pot & Slow Cooker, due Sept. 1. Go to micoopkitchen.com for more information or email@example.com to submit.
Win $150 for stories published! Submit your fondest memories and stories at countrylines.com/ community.
Win a $50 bill credit! Enter a drawing to identify the correct location of the photo. See page 18.
MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES
Tree Trimming Improves Service For All
500 J.K. Paul Street Ontonagon, MI 49953 906-884-4151 800-562-7128 After hours: 866-639-6098 OFFICERS & DIRECTORS
Calvin Koski, President Aura District 906-524-6988 • firstname.lastname@example.org
William Hodges, Vice President Lake Linden District 906-934-3743 • email@example.com Mildred Ann Gasperich, Secretary Boston District 906-281-2009 • firstname.lastname@example.org Randy Myhren, Treasurer Green/Firesteel/Toivola District 906-884-4092
Wayne Heikkinen, Director Pelkie/Herman/Aura District 906-353-6496 • email@example.com Michael Urbis, Director Ewen/Trout Creek/Lake Mine District 906-988-2344 • firstname.lastname@example.org
George Rajala, Director Chassell/Keweenaw Bay District 906-370-0416 • email@example.com PERSONNEL
Debbie Miles, General Manager Fay Hauswirth, Billing Clerk Mark Urbis, Line Superintendent OTHER INFORMATION
Date of Incorporation: Sept. 30, 1937 Fiscal year-end: Dec. 31 countrylines.com/coops/ontonagon Ontonagon County REA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.
Debbie Miles, General Manager
ne of the things I love best about our community is a natural beauty that surrounds us. We are fortunate to have so many trees that offer beauty, shade, and a habitat for all sorts of birds and other wildlife. We know that you appreciate our community for many of the same reasons. At Ontonagon REA, we strive to balance maintaining beautiful surroundings and ensuring a reliable power supply by keeping power lines clear in rights-of-way (ROW). While we recognize and appreciate trees’ beauty, there are three main benefits to tree trimming in ROW areas. However, before touching on the main reasons, let me explain what a “right-of-way” is and how it may impact you. A right-ofway is the land we use to construct, maintain, replace or repair underground and overhead power lines. Rights-of-way enable the co-op to provide clearance from trees and other obstructions that could hinder the power line installation, maintenance, or operation. ROW areas are typically on public lands or located near a business or home. Regardless, Ontonagon REA must be able to maintain the power lines above and below the ROW. Our vegetation management program’s overall goal is to provide reliable power to our members while maintaining the beauty of our community. Proactive vegetation management benefits co-op members in two tangible ways.
Safety First and foremost, we care about our members and put their safety and that of our lineworkers above all else. Overgrown vegetation and trees pose a risk to power lines. For example, if trees are touching power lines in our members’ yards, they can pose a grave danger to families. If children can access those trees, they can potentially climb into a dangerous zone. Electricity can arc, or jump, from a power line to a nearby conductor like a tree. A proactive approach also diminishes the chances of fallen branches or trees during severe weather events that make it more complicated and dangerous for lineworkers to restore power.
Reliability Of course, one of the biggest benefits of a smart vegetation management program is reliability. Strategic tree trimming reduces the frequency of downed lines causing power outages. Generally speaking, healthy trees don’t fall on power lines, and clear lines don’t cause problems. Proactive trimming and pruning keep lines clear to promote reliability. If trees grow too close to power lines, the potential for expensive repairs also increases. Effective tree trimming and other vegetation management efforts keep costs down for everyone. Our community is a special place. We appreciate the beauty trees afford, but we also know our community depends on us to provide reliable energy. Through vegetation management, we can keep the power lines clear, prepare for future weather events, and secure the grid’s reliability.
4 MAY 2021
Ontonagon County REA/Dec. 31, 2020 & Dec. 31, 2019 Financial Statement Balance Sheets Assets UTILITY PLANT: Electric plant in service Construction work in progress Less—Accumulated depreciation Net utility plant INVESTMENTS & OTHER ASSETS: Investments Total investments and other assets CURRENT ASSETS: Cash and cash equivalents Accounts receivable (less accumulated provision for uncollectibles of $40,000 in 2019) Accounts receivable—other Materials and supplies Prepayments Total current assets Deferred charges TOTAL ASSETS
$31,417,830 739,169 32,156,999 (10,780,029) 21,376,970
$30,566,345 877,231 31,443,576 (10,067,567) 21,376,009
94,717 251,217 23,568 1,743,505 152,783
60,494 224,073 (13,862) 1,068,757 104,086
Members’ Equities and Liabilities EQUITIES: Memberships Patronage capital Other equities Total equities LONG-TERM LIABILITIES: Rural Utilities Service (RUS) mortgage notes FFB National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corporation (NRUCFC) supplemental mortgage notes CoBank, ACB mortgage note Less current portion Post-retirement benefit obligation Total long-term liabilities
$22,755 6,782,919 32,497 6,838,171
$22,760 6,340,786 32,497 6,396,043
7,955,856 $16,117,064 (620,000) $15,497,064 96,000 $15,593,064
$18,385,914 115,797 $18,501,711
Members’ Equities and Liabilities (continued) CURRENT LIABILITIES: Current maturities of long-term liabilities Line of credit notes payable Accounts payable Customer deposits Other current liabilities Total current liabilities Deferred credits TOTAL EQUITIES AND LIABILITIES
640,000 263,074 14,850 392,943
620,000 112,058 404,156 14,550 418,486
Statement of Revenue and Expenses Ending Dec. 31, 2020 & Dec. 31, 2019 OPERATING REVENUES
2,162,866 325,079 929,393 216,701 121,849 539,396 854,590 308,388 20,235
2,196,418 334,122 721,547 205,115 120,818 575,356 834,069 341,547 20,599
OPERATING EXPENSES: Cost of purchased power Distribution—Operations Distribution—Maintenance Consumer accounts Customer service and informational Sales expense Administrative and general Depreciation Taxes Other deductions Total operating expenses Operating margins before interest expense Interest expense Operating margins (loss) after interest expense NONOPERATING MARGINS: Interest and investment income Other nonoperating income (expense) Capital credits NET (LOSS) MARGINS
69,245 21,223 $90,468 100,793
69,134 66,647 $135,781 98,888
Consumer Cooperative Act Disclosure Name
Title and District
500 James K. Paul St., Ontonagon, MI 49953
18338 Aura Road, L’anse, MI 49946
5166 S. Big Traverse Bay Road, Lake Linden, MI 49945
Director—Vice President & Treasurer Lake Linden District
Mildred Ann Gasperich
58807 Lakeshore Drive, Calumet, MI 49913
16593 Grist Mill Road, Baraga, MI 49908
14783 N. Cemetery Road, Ewen, MI 49925
Director Ewen/Trout Creek/Lake Mine
4730 Charlie’s Road, Toivola, MI 49965
PO Box 415, Chassell, MI 49916
Director Chassell/Keweenaw Bay
*All terms expire in June. Board members are compensated $325 per board meeting (president $350). General manager is compensated $100,000 annually.
MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES
The Michigan State Capitol Went Geothermal—Should You? By Larry Kaufmann, Michigan Geothermal Energy Association
he Michigan State Capitol in Lansing recently went geothermal. I was involved at the beginning of this process ﬁve years ago. The Capitol is 138 years old and probably had its original heating and cooling system, which had many problems. The system was blowing out hot and cold air at the same time, and it was costly. Most importantly, it was not providing proper circulation—especially in the dome, where it was causing damage to the artwork and artifacts in the Capitol. A committee saw going “green” with geothermal heat pumps as the solution to all these problems. Geothermal will lower the cost of heating and cooling in the Capitol by an estimated $300,000 per year. It will provide more comfort to the people in the building. It will provide better air quality and humidity control to protect the valuable artwork and artifacts. This 2½-year infrastructure project cost $70 million, with part of this cost being paid for by the Tobacco Settlement. This geothermal system design involved
drilling 224 loops about 500 feet deep. Michigan now joins Colorado, Oklahoma, and Idaho as states with a geothermal Capitol. Notice that we are ahead of California and New York in going green. Some of you may be unfamiliar with geothermal heat pumps, so this information will help you to understand the system and how it can be beneﬁcial for your home. Geothermal has been installed in residential homes since the early 1970s. There are more than 1 million geothermal units in the United States and about 40,000 in Michigan. They work just like your refrigerator. On the bottom of the refrigerator is a coil. Geothermal uses a much bigger coil called a “loop,” which “plugs” into the ground. The ground is a constant temperature between 50-60 degrees year-round, six feet below the soil. Geothermal uses this constant temperature to heat your home in the winter (with compression and a refrigerant) and cool it in the summer. Because the ground is heated by the sun, it is considered renewable energy in Michigan.
Homeowners primarily purchase geothermal systems for three reasons:
TO SAVE MONEY
TO PROTECT THE ENVIRONMENT
TO IMPROVE INDOOR AIR QUALITY
Because we are starting with a constant temperature, most geothermal units are four to ﬁve times more efﬁcient than a gas, oil, or propane furnace and twice as efﬁcient as an electric air conditioner. This results in big savings for you! Geothermal costs more to install but saves you money every year. When included in the mortgage of a new home, the savings from geothermal will be larger than the increased cost of installation. Therefore, you will have a positive cash ﬂow from Day 1. Once you install a geothermal system, you will have about a three- to ﬁve-year payback versus propane or oil heating. Against gas furnaces and air conditioning, geothermal will have a ﬁve- to 10-year payback. These are only estimates, and you should contact a Michigan Geothermal Energy Association (MGEA) approved geothermal contractor to get a quote for your home. Many people are concerned about sustainability. Here is your chance to go green and save money! You will also reduce your carbon footprint. There is no open ﬂame in geothermal, which is a great safety feature. You will also have better air quality with a more consistent temperature.
Construction at the Capitol in Lansing, Michigan.
Some great recent news is that Congress has just renewed the Geothermal Tax Credit! The tax credit will be 26% in 2021 and 2022 and will be reduced to 22% in 2023. So the time to act is now! To ﬁnd a qualiﬁed MGEA-approved geothermal dealer, go to earthcomfort.com. Click on the “Contractors” button at the top and enter your ZIP code. You will get a list of all approved MGEA contractors in your area. I do not recommend using a non-MGEA contractor. Many are not fully trained in geothermal, and MGEA cannot help you if the job goes wrong. I have had a geothermal system in my home for over 20 years. The temperature in my 2,600-square-foot house plus 1,000-squarefoot basement has always been 72 degrees. My average heating and cooling bill over these 20 years has been about $70 per month. Geothermal is cost saving for everyone.
The Farmington City Hall complex in Farmington, Michigan, is all geothermal.
MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES
Spring Into Recycling Season T
his year, make your spring-cleaning season all about decluttering and recycling unwanted items in your home—you may even save some money.
The basement or garage is a great place to start, especially if you are using that space for a secondary refrigerator or chest freezer. It may be convenient, but if your extra appliance is older than 15 years, it may cost you several hundred dollars or more per year to keep it running. The good news: You can recycle your old refrigerator and/ or chest freezer through the Energy Optimization program. You can add an old window air conditioner or dehumidifier for recycling as well (items must be in working condition). The better news: There is no cost to you. Simply call the Energy Optimization team at 877-296-4319 to schedule a FREE pickup, and a representative will come to your home for removal. The best news: Earn a $50 cash incentive for recycling a refrigerator or chest freezer. After your appliance is picked up, you will receive a rebate check within six to eight weeks. It’s that easy!
Pickup or Ride-Along Item
Refrigerator (Full-size, 10 cubic feet or larger)
Chest Freezer (10 cubic feet or larger)
Window Air Conditioner
Save even more. Replace your old, outdated refrigerator or freezer with a new energy-efficient ENERGY STAR® model. You may qualify for additional rebates. For more questions, or to schedule a free pickup, please visit michigan-energy.org or call 877-296-4319.
An outdated refrigerator uses nearly twice as much energy as a new ENERGY STAR® certified model. Recycle it and earn cash incentives! Refrigerator: $50 rebate Chest Freezer: $50 rebate Window Air Conditioner: $15 rebate (ride-along item) Dehumidifier: $15 rebate (ride-along item)
SCHEDULE A FREE PICKUP
michigan-energy.org • 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 Jan. 1, 2021, and Dec. 31, 2021. Other restrictions may apply. For complete program details, visit michigan-energy.org.
Mom & Me 1. Sharing a selfie with my mom, Holly. Nicole Komoroski 2. Mom and me by the water. Colleen Jayne 3. My Melanie at 3 months old, circa Sept. 1967. Sylvia Kievit-Milan 4. Mother-daughter beach day! Betsy Stephanic 5. Mom and me. Toni Butkovich
Enter to win a
energy bill credit!
Submit A Photo & Win A Bill Credit!
Ontonagon REA members whose photos we print in Michigan Country Lines will be entered in a drawing. Four lucky members will win a credit of $50 on their December 2021 energy bills!
Upcoming Topics and Deadlines:
• Show Your American Pride, due June 20 (July/August issue) • Water, due July 20 (Sept./Oct. issue) • Santa Photos, due September 20 (Nov./Dec. issue) To submit photos, and for details and instructions, go to http://bit.ly/countrylines. We look forward to seeing your best photos!
MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES
MI CO-OP Recipes
Photos by Robert Bruce Photography || Recipes Submitted by MCL Readers and Tested by Recipe Editor Christin McKamey
GARDEN FRESH Put your seasonal produce to good use.
Shelley Ehrenberger, Cherryland 4 large tomatoes 1 small cucumber, chopped (1 cup) 1 medium green bell pepper, chopped (½ cup) 1 stalk celery, chopped (½ cup) 1 small onion, ﬁnely chopped (¼ cup) 1 clove garlic, minced 1 (13¾-ounce) can chicken (or vegetable) broth 2 tablespoons lemon juice (fresh is best) 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon oil, to taste 1 teaspoon sugar 1 teaspoon salt ¼ teaspoon black pepper • dash hot pepper sauce, to taste • croutons
energy bill credit!
10 MAY 2021
Around The World due Aug. 1 • Instant Pot & Slow Cooker Favorites due Sept. 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 your recipe at micoopkitchen.com, or send it via email (include your full name and co-op) to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Plunge tomatoes into boiling water for 30 seconds, then into cold water. Slip off skins, then coarsely chop. In a large bowl, combine all vegetables and garlic. Stir in broth and remaining ingredients. Cover and transfer to the fridge until chilled. Serve with croutons. Variation: Whirl in blender in batches until preferred smoothness (I blend about half), then stir together. Watch a video of this month’s winning recipe at micoopkitchen.com/videos
FRESH FROM THE GARDEN MINESTRONE SOUP
Valerie Donn, Great Lakes Energy 2 ²⁄ ³ ½ ½ 2 1 1 32 1½ 1 1 1
tablespoons olive oil cup white onion, diced cup celery, diced cup carrots, peeled and diced teaspoons garlic, minced cup green beans, freshly cut up (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes ounces vegetable stock teaspoons oregano bay leaf tablespoon diced fresh parsley (15-ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 zucchini, diced ½ cup small pasta (elbow macaroni, etc.) • salt and pepper, to taste Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. When oil is hot, add the onions, celery, carrots, and garlic. Cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Cook green beans in small separate pan with water until half cooked; drain. Add canned tomatoes, vegetable broth, oregano, bay leaf, and parsley to the pot. Bring to a boil and turn down to simmer. Add kidney beans, green beans, zucchini, and pasta. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until the pasta and vegetables are tender. Remove bay leaf before serving and season with salt and pepper to desired taste.
MEXICAN FRESH CORN
Deb Finedell, Great Lakes Energy • fresh ears of corn • sour cream • Mexican seasonings (seasoning blend or mix of garlic, oregano, cumin, & chili powder)
FRESH POPPERS Kris Hazeres, Alger Delta
1 pound bacon, cooked and chopped (or precooked bacon) 2 pounds sweet mini peppers 2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened 2–3 jalapeños, ﬁnely diced 1½ cups ﬁnely shredded sharp cheddar or pepper jack cheese Cook bacon until crispy. While the bacon is cooking, cut the peppers in
half lengthwise (stems on) and clean out seeds. Once the bacon is done and cooled a bit, use a large knife to chop into small bits. In a medium/large bowl, use a spoon to mix all ingredients except for the mini peppers. Using a small spoon or mini spatula, stuff the mini peppers with the mixture. The sweet mini peppers are even better grilled for a few minutes before stufﬁng. This recipe can easily be made the night before.
• butter • shredded Asiago cheese Cook or grill fresh ears of corn. Mix sour cream and Mexican seasonings to taste. Coat cooked ears with butter. Roll in sour cream mixture. Roll in Asiago cheese. Enjoy.
Notice Of 2021 Annual Meeting Of Members Of Ontonagon County Rural Electrification Association
Mail-in ballots due June 15
Date of Notice: May 18, 2021 Please be advised that, pursuant to Article II, Section 3 and Article XIV of the Ontonagon County Rural Electrification Association’s bylaws, the Annual Meeting of the members of the Ontonagon County Rural Electrification Association is hereby called by the secretary of the association. The purpose of the Annual Meeting is to seat the new directors, pass reports covering the previous fiscal year, and transact any other business as may properly come before the meeting. The Annual Meeting of the members of the Ontonagon County Rural Electrification Association shall occur at Chassell High School, 41585 U.S. Highway 41, Chassell, Michigan 49916, promptly at 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 19, 2021.
Two Director Seats Up For Election
Ontonagon County Rural Electrification Association William Hodges, secretary Note: The Annual Meeting event plans are subject to change based on evolving COVID-19 restrictions.
he Ontonagon County Rural Electrification Association is comprised of seven districts, with directors elected for threeyear terms.
This year the terms will expire for District 7: Lake Linden and District 4: Aura.
IC E C LO S U RES
MEMORIAL DAY & INDEPENDENCE DAY Cooperative offices will be closed on Monday, May 31, in observance of the Memorial Day holiday and Monday, July 5, for Independence Day. Payments may be made at the drop box and will be posted on the next open business day. From our family to yours, enjoy the holidays!
12 MAY 2021
These two director seats are up for election this June and ballots for those elections will be mailed after May 3, 2021, the due date of the nominating petitions. The ballots are due to our office no later than Monday, June 14, 2021, at 500 J.K. Paul St., Ontonagon, MI 49953. Please call our office if you have any questions.
Ontonagon REA 2021 Summer Office Hours Effective May 3 to Sept. 2 the summer office hours are Monday-Thursday 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Fuel Mix Report The fuel mix characteristics of Ontonagon REA as required by Public Act 141 of 2000 for the 12-month period ending 12/31/20.
Comparison Of Fuel Sources Used
Get smart about electrical safety. May is National Electrical Safety Month. Never plug an extension cord into another extension cord. Label circuit breakers to understand the different circuits in your home.
Your co-op’s fuel mix
Regional average fuel mix
Solid Waste Incineration
NOTE: Biomass excludes wood; solid waste incineration includes landfill gas.
Your Co-op’s Fuel Mix
Talk to your children about the importance of practicing electrical safety.
Only use light bulbs that match the recommended wattage on the light fixture.
Regional Average Fuel Mix
Access To Rules And Rates Please be advised that the following information is available to Ontonagon County REA 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 member’s actual energy use for each billing period during the last 12 months. The information can be obtained by contacting Ontonagon County REA at 906-884-4151.
Emissions And Waste Comparison lbs/MWh
Type of emission/waste
Oxides of Nitrogen High-level Nuclear Waste
*Regional average information was obtained from the MPSC website and is for the 12-month period ending 12/31/20. Figures for Ontonagon County REA are based on those of its power supplier, Wolverine Power Supply Cooperative, Inc., which provided this fuel mix and environmental data.
MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES 13
Four Generations Contribute To The Swanson Pickle Co.
By Emily Haines Lloyd
From left to right: Matt Swanson, Wes Swanson, Katie Hensley, John Swanson.
ichigan is one of the most diverse agricultural growers in the country, second only to California. So perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising that it’s the number one producer of cucumbers, speciﬁcally those grown for pickles. For such a tiny vegetable, pickles make for big business. At Swanson Pickling Co. in Ravenna, Michigan, pickling goes back a long way, starting with John Wesley Swanson, who began by marketing and selling pickles grown in the state after World War II. Four generations later, the Swanson family grows, grades, and ferments pickles that ﬁnd their way onto grocery shelves across the country.
from four to six weeks. Pickles are then removed from tanks and shipped to client companies throughout the Midwest. These clients include big names as close as Holland, Michigan, where the Kraft Heinz Company uses these pickles as the base for many of its various products. “We’re a company that knows how to pivot and grow based on what our customers want and need,” said John. “In the ‘60s, it was getting into farming. In the ‘80s, we needed to expand our tank yard. In 2000, it was sorting for customers who wanted to stop handling the raw product. You have to be nimble in any business.”
“We grow almost 1,500 acres of pickling cucumbers, which yields about 200 bushels of pickles per acre,” said John Swanson, president of Swanson Pickle Co. “That’s just a third of what we brine, so the rest we’re getting from other farmers around the state.”
John has seen his grandfather and father ride the ebb and ﬂow of the pickle industry, and he’s worked with a lot of family over the years. The dynamics of working with his dad, brothers, and even cousins over the years has been a unique experience. Now, John watches as his three children take on their own roles in the family business.
The company, which is a Great Lakes Energy Cooperative member, has more than 1,300 ﬁberglass tanks, each able to hold 905 bushels of cucumbers, with fermentation taking
The middle of John’s brood, Wes, manages that massive ﬁberglass tank yard with more than a thousand vessels to watch over. The youngest son, Matt, oversees the farming
14 MAY 2021
Swanson Pickling Co. has more than 1,300 fiberglass tanks, each able to hold 905 bushels of cucumbers, with fermentation taking from four to six weeks.
“Maybe it’s that there are a lot of family businesses in pickles, or the longstanding relationships we seem to have with one another. Or maybe it’s just a happy business. I mean, you can’t even say ‘pickle’ and not smile.” —John Swanson
and growing operations that his own grandfather, Don, moved the business into. Finally, John’s daughter, Kate, who got her MBA from Spain’s IESE business school and used to work for Syngenta in Switzerland, functions as CFO, looking after the ﬁnancials and sales. “We’re honored to be a fourth-generation business, and luckily it’s never felt like a burden,” said John. “But even if the kids had decided not to take over the business, I wouldn’t have been upset. I’m still proud of what we’ve all built together.” John says he doesn’t carry the burden of the business, the struggles of unknown factors in farming, or even the weight
that could be felt in keeping the family business going, as he speaks of the work the family does. Warmth and friendliness exudes from the present patriarch, and he notes that it feels small and tight-knit like a family within the pickle industry. He mentions moments of discovering “your grandpa knew my grandpa.” “Maybe it’s that there are a lot of family businesses in pickles, or the longstanding relationships we seem to have with one another,” said John. “Or maybe it’s just a happy business. I mean, you can’t even say ‘pickle’ and not smile.”
MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES
Critchlow Alligator Sanctuary Is
By Emily Haines Lloyd Photos Courtesy of Critchlow Alligator Sanctuary
hen we think of alligators, we’re flooded with imagery of sunbathing crocodiles on southern golf courses or Evergladesdwelling animals we’d just as soon not have a run-in with. But in Athens, Michigan, alligators are not only living and thriving, but people are actually hoping to have a real-life encounter with these prehistoric-looking beasts. When David Critchlow was a FedEx delivery man, he enjoyed chatting up people on his route, and while there were always interesting stories to hear and packages to deliver, a weird, but common, thread started to arise. “Dad would see a package from an exotic pet supplier and realize he might be delivering a snake,” said David’s daughter, Lina Kelly, the director of animal care and enrichment of Critchlow Alligator Sanctuary. “As time passed, he’d start chatting to folks, and the conversations changed to ‘hey, do you know anyone who wants a snake?’” Peter Critchlow with Godzilla, an 11-foot-long, 500-pound alligator.
16 MAY 2021
Unsurprisingly, many people who thought a snake would be an interesting pet were less interested when that same pet began to
outgrow its habitat. David was always an animal lover and outdoorsy sort, and he eventually started offering to take in the newly homeless reptiles. “At some point, we had dozens of snakes,” remembers Lina. “Growing up, there were always reptiles around. It felt super normal.” One day, a new request came in, as someone asked David if he knew anyone who could take in an alligator. While David had never owned an alligator before, his heart couldn’t take the idea that the animal would be put down because its owner hadn’t thought through the consequences. David figured out what it would take to make a suitable environment for an alligator and become a new foster owner. Little by little, word spread that there was a guy who would take in alligators, and the family eventually had 10 to 30 of them housed in fenced-in areas in the backyard at any given time. “Eventually, people would just drive up to the house and ask if they could go take a look at the alligators,” said Lina. “We’d give them these little tours and tell them about each alligator’s story and what we knew. That’s how the sanctuary got started.” In 2007, David made his informal reptile shelter into a fulltime sanctuary. The family learned about alligators, snakes, and even tortoises, as new members continually found their way to the Critchlows. It involved extensive research, along with reptile-related workshops and conferences, to understand the animals, as well as finding out how to best feed, house, and even train them. The Critchlows never buy or sell any of the animals in their care—all are rescues. “We’ve learned so much over the years,” said Lina. “And it’s important always to be learning more, so we can help as many animals as we can.”
“WE LOVE WHAT WE DO, BUT IN SOME WAYS, WE’D RATHER NOT BE IN THE REPTILE RESCUING BUSINESS. WE’D RATHER HAVE PEOPLE MAKE SMARTER DECISIONS ABOUT WHETHER OR NOT THEY’RE CAPABLE OF THE COMMITMENT.” —LINA KELLY The sanctuary has grown into a home for turtles, tortoises, snakes, and nearly 200 alligators in the past decade. All the alligators are given names, but training them to learn their names happens when they are around 5 feet in length. These include Godzilla, an 11-foot-long and 500-pound fella, and Medusa—named because she’s not exactly attractive and is a little on the cranky side. Another, named Grace, is a 100-pounder who came to the sanctuary with a missing left foot. She’s been trained to lie still for medical treatment, a positive sign for some additional training David looks to do. If it sounds like a lot to do, it’s because it is. So, to round out the crew, Lina, along with her nephew (Alex) and her brother (Peter), all came on board to help with the family business. They’re committed to making education a huge arm of their mission, with David doing hundreds of school and community presentations a year. “A little baby alligator is cute. There’s no denying it. But you have to think of the animal and be ready for when that baby grows up,” said Lina. “We love what we do, but in some ways, we’d rather not be in the reptile rescuing business. We’d rather have people make smarter decisions about whether or not they’re capable of the commitment.” For now, the need is still there, and the Critchlow Alligator Sanctuary remains a safe space for displaced reptiles. It’s an unlikely place where these animals can live out their lives while enriching the lives of those who make the visit and are willing to learn.
For more information, visit alligatorsanctuary.com. 1698 M-66, Athens, MI 49011 • (269) 729-4802
MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES 17
MI CO-OP Community
Hidden Northern Michigan Treasure For All Ages By Doug Jerue
orth on M-149, 12 miles from Manistique, lies gorgeous Kitch-iti-kipi (Big Spring), Michigan’s largest spring. It’s an oval spring measuring 200 feet in diameter and is 42 feet deep with an emerald green bottom. From ﬁssures in underlying limestone ﬂows 16,000 gallons of crystal clear water per minute of spring water throughout the year at a constant temperature of 45 degrees, so it never freezes. In any season, it’s quite a sight to see and to take in the color of the water, huge ﬁsh, and the water bubbling up from the ﬂoor of the spring. After taking a 50-yard paved path to the shoreline, a selfoperated observation raft guides visitors to enjoy the fascinating underwater features. The state of Michigan acquired Kitch-iti-kipi in 1926. History records indicate that John I. Bellaire, owner of a Manistique Five and Dime store, fell in love with the black hole spring when he discovered it in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula’s thick wilderness in the 1920s. The spring was hidden in a tangle of fallen trees, and loggers used the nearby area as a dump. Bellaire saw its potential as a public recreation spot. He could have purchased the spring and adjoining property himself. He persuaded Frank Palms of the Palms Book Land Company to sell the spring and 90 acres to the state of Michigan for $10. The property deed requires the property to be forever used as a public park, bearing Palms Book State Park’s name. The state of Michigan has since acquired adjacent land, and the park now encompasses over 300 acres. A fun fact about the ﬁsh you see in the emerald waters of Kitch-iti-kipi is that some are “retired” moms and dads to all the ﬁsh that get released from hatcheries, which we enjoy throughout the upper and lower peninsulas in our
energy bill credit!
lakes and rivers. These are the ﬁsh hatcheries that supply millions of trout (lake, brown, rainbow and brook) to be bred and raised, and released into Michigan lakes. Kitch-itikipi is where the trout live out their days. You’ll know which ﬁsh these are, as they may have only one ﬁn, where others have two ﬁns. These ﬁsh are typically over 25 years old! Make Kitch-iti-kipi a stop on your next adventure, it will not disappoint. A great pure Michigan beauty for all ages to enjoy!
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 to the left by May 20 and be entered into a drawing to win a $50 electric bill credit. Enter your guess at countrylines.com/community. March 2021 Winner! Our Mystery Photo winner is Ruth Bailey, a Cherryland Electric Cooperative member who correctly identiﬁed the photo as Boekeloo Lodge, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Photo by Karen Farrell. Winners are announced in the following issues of Country Lines: January, March, May, July/August, September, and November/December.
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Join us on June 19
Attend Your Co-op’s
ANNUAL MEETING Saturday, June 19, 10 a.m. / Chassell High School 41585 U.S. Hwy. 41, Chassell, MI 49916
The board of directors and employees of your electric co-op invite you to join them at the 2021 Annual Meeting. This is a chance to visit with your neighbors and friends from throughout our seven-county service area and participate in your co-op’s affairs. There will be drawings for cash prizes and a box lunch will be served. Note: The Annual Meeting event plans are subject to change based on evolving COVID-19 restrictions.