May 2024 GLE

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Energy Cooperative
May 2024 MICHIGAN The GLE App Is Where It’s At Nominate A Nonprofit For The Community Grant Giveaway GLE Is Building Community Connections

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Michigan’s Electric Cooperatives


EDITOR: Christine Dorr


RECIPE EDITOR: Christin Russman

COPY EDITOR: Yvette Pecha


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: 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.


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.

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

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Follow Michigan influencer

Cassondra Wanders as she takes us through the Air Zoo Aerospace & Science Experience in Portage, Michigan.


Quiches & Savory Tarts: Light and fluffy recipes perfect for brunch and beyond.


Northland Outfitters in Germfask, Michigan, is not just a place for nature lovers, but a home for a giant wooden troll—named Benny.


Worms of Misfortune: Reminisce with cooperative member Margaret Elwood about digging up worms during the Great Depression and the lesson she learned.

MI Co-op Community

To enter contests, submit reader content & more, visit

Recipe Contest

See details on page 10. Casseroles, due June 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 May 2024 Vol. 44, No. 5 /michigancountrylines /michigancountrylines




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

Mark Carson, Vice Chairman, District 2 231-675-0561

Paul Byl, Secretary, District 7 231-861-5911

Dale Farrier, Treasurer, District 5 231-564-0853

Janet Andersen, Director, District 6 231-690-4622

David Coveyou, Director, District 1 231-347-4056

Richard Evans, Director, District 3 231-883-3146

John LaForge, Director, District 9 269-623-2284

Mary O’Connell, Director, District 4 989-217-8379

PRESIDENT/CEO: Shaun Lamp 888-485-2537


Brett Streby 231-487-1389 •


1323 Boyne Ave.

Boyne City, MI 49712

Call center hours: 7 a.m.–5:30 p.m. M–F

Phone: 888-485-2537



Call 888-485-2537 or login to your account at or the GLE mobile app.

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

Great Lakes Energy is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

WGet Connected To Electrical Safety

hether it’s reliable electric service or life-changing high-speed internet, keeping you—our members—connected is at the core of what we do at Great Lakes Energy. As an extension of these efforts, we also work hard to keep our members connected to important information about their service, their accounts, the many programs GLE offers, and critical safety tips.

Since May is Electrical Safety Month, it’s a perfect time for us to talk about safety.

At GLE, safety is something we think about every day. In fact, number one on the list of our company’s seven guiding principles is “Safety is paramount in our work.”

While it’s especially important for our lineworkers, who are highly trained and use special equipment to reduce the hazards they face working near energized power lines, electrical safety is something we all must take seriously. Along with the many benefits electricity brings to our daily lives, we must also respect the potential hazards it presents if we don’t take the proper precautions.

Downed power lines are some of the most dangerous situations for our crews and the community. Never go near a downed power line. You should always assume that a downed power line is still live and stay at least 35 feet away from it or anything the line might be touching.

There’s another important safety concern related to power outages: generator safety. If you have a generator that is directly connected to your home’s electrical system, it is very important that your home is equipped with a transfer switch and that you use it whenever your generator is operating. These switches isolate your home from the electrical distribution system, which not only protects lineworkers and others outside your home, but also prevents your home’s electrical systems from potential damage if power from GLE is restored while your generator is still operating.

I would also like to encourage you to take advantage of our new outage notification system, which will let you know through emails or text messages that we are aware of an outage affecting your service, when a crew has been dispatched to begin restoration work, and when the outage has been restored. These notifications will keep you updated on the status of outage restoration efforts from the safety of your home.

If you see our crews performing outage restoration work, please do not approach them or try to engage in conversations with them. These line crews are doing very dangerous work and the sites may contain life-threatening hazards. Although it’s natural to be curious about restoration efforts taking place in your area, for your safety and for theirs, please stay away during these times.

I’d also encourage you to check out the electrical safety checklist on the next page, which can help you avoid everyday electrical hazards.

With a little care, we can all safely enjoy the many benefits electricity brings us.

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XElectrical Safety Checklist

Avoid running extension cords across doorways or under carpets. If you need to use an extension cord for a long period of time, consider having an electrician install a new outlet where needed.

In households with young children, use safety caps for all unused outlets.

XXNever use electrical equipment near water, and unplug small kitchen and bathroom appliances when not in use.

Make sure all outdoor outlets and those in bathrooms, kitchens, and other locations where moisture may be nearby are ground fault circuit interrupter outlets.

X Do not overload outlets or power strips.


Be aware of outlets or switches that feel warm. If you notice this or you are having recurring problems with blowing fuses, tripped circuit breakers, or flickering lights, call an electrician for help.

Watch out for electrical cords that are damaged, and make sure they aren’t pinched by furniture, windows, or doors.

Be sure to sign up for outage notifications so you can be prepared and safe when an outage happens.

Do not approach or interact with our lineworkers while they are engaged in outage restoration work. Scan this QR code with your smart phone to watch a video with more storm-related safety tips.


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 member’s 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.


The fuel mix characteristics of Great Lakes Energy Cooperative as required by Public Act 141 of 2000 for the 12-month period ending 12/31/23.


NOTE: Biomass excludes wood; solid waste incineration includes landfill gas; and wind includes a long-term renewable purchase power contract in Wolverine’s mix.


of emission/waste

*Regional average information was obtained from the MPSC website and is for the 12-month period ending 12/31/23. Great Lakes Energy purchases 100% of its electricity from Wolverine Power Supply Cooperative, Inc., which provided this fuel mix and environmental data.

lbs/MWh Your co-op Regional average* Sulfur Dioxide 0.53 0.95 Carbon Dioxide 652.5 1,092.2 Oxides of Nitrogen 0.42 0.78 High-Level Nuclear Waste 0.0097
Fuel source
co-op’s fuel mix Regional average fuel mix Coal 16.695% 26.446% Oil 0.241% 0.428% Gas 22.280% 35.916% Hydroelectric 0.459% 0.724% Nuclear 42.108% 26.167% Renewable Fuels 18.217% 10.319% Biofuel 0.384% 0.760% Biomass 0.163% 0.364% Solar 1.099% 1.170% Solid Waste Incineration 0.083% 0.006% Wind 16.284% 7.616% Wood 0.204% 0.403%



Nestled in the charming city of Portage, Michigan, the Air Zoo Aerospace & Science Experience (Air Zoo) is a world-class museum and science education center. A testament to the history of aviation and aerospace exploration, the Air Zoo invites visitors to discover the wonders of flight.

Igniting imaginations through engaging and immersive exhibits, from hot air balloons to vintage aircraft and cutting-edge spacecraft, the museum’s collection spans the entire spectrum of aviation history. Whether you’re a history buff, a science enthusiast, or simply looking for a fun and educational outing, the Air Zoo offers something for everyone.

The Legacy of the Air Zoo

The Air Zoo has evolved from a modest aircraft collection into a world-class aerospace museum. Suzanne and Pete Parish’s passion for preserving the legacy of aviation history has cemented the Air Zoo as a premier destination in the heart of southwest Michigan.

The Parishes were both accomplished pilots—Suzanne having served with the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) and Pete being a retired World War II Marine Air Corps Aviator. The two of them, who had amassed a collection of planes, were particularly enthusiastic about World War II aircraft. A friend of theirs offered to give them his Grumman Bearcat, a fighter aircraft from the war, if they agreed to open a museum. Soon

after, The Kalamazoo Aviation History Museum opened to the public in November 1979.

In addition to the Bearcat, the founding collection included a Wildcat, Hellcat, and Flying Tiger. With all the wild animal aircraft, it was quite fitting how the name Air Zoo quickly caught on.

Originally a nine-plane hangar exhibit, the Air Zoo now features over 100 rare aircraft and spacecraft. Visitors can marvel at iconic planes like an SR-71 Blackbird and an F-14 Tomcat. Boasting over 100,000 square feet of museum space, the Air Zoo spans across two facilities: the Flight Discovery Center and the Flight Innovation Center. The Discovery Center features real-time, flight-based activities, exhibitions, and

Wanders Adventure Series
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the Restoration Center, where a team of experts restores historical artifacts in public view. Current conservation efforts include two WWII aircraft recovered from the bottom of Lake Michigan.

In addition to its impressive aircraft collection, the Air Zoo has acquired more than 100,000 rare artifacts and archives. By meticulously restoring vintage aircraft and preserving these artifacts, the museum honors the achievements of pioneering aviators and offers invaluable insights into the evolution of aviation.

Hands-On Exhibits

The Air Zoo’s Innovation Center is where you’ll find immersive exhibits that offer hands-on experiences unlike any other. From science experimentation stations to full-motion flight simulations and open cockpits, exhibits are designed to spark curiosity and encourage imagination.

Through the “open cockpit” experience, you’ll get a feel for what it was like to fly famous historical aircraft. Climb behind the stick for a real “pilot’s eye” view from the seat of an aircraft.

Step into the world of virtual reality with the Air Zoo’s flight simulators. “Fly” in a safe, controlled environment and choose from realistic simulations of take-off, landing, and aerial maneuvers in various aircraft. Whether you’re battling against giant robots, embarking on a spacewalk mission, or engaging in an aerial dogfight over the Pacific Ocean, the Air Zoo’s virtual adventures offer a thrilling way to experience aviation and space exploration.

A variety of indoor amusement parkstyle rides are included with museum admission. Get a spectacular aerial view of the museum aboard the 26-foot Century of Flight Ferris Wheel. Fly through the sky on the Montgolfier Balloon Race ride, steer a Flying Circus Biplane, and feel the weightlessness of parachuting on the Paratrooper Jump.

At Toddler Tarmac, the Air Zoo’s indoor children’s play area, imaginations soar with various hands-on activities tailored to engage young visitors. Little aviators are sure to have a blast at this dynamic aerospace museum. The Air Zoo has something interactive for everyone to enjoy.

Plan Your Visit

The Air Zoo promises an unforgettable experience all year-round. Admission prices vary depending on age and membership status, with discounts available for seniors, military personnel, and groups. Museum galleries are wagon, stroller, and wheelchair friendly. Ample free and accessible parking is available for all visitors. Upon check-in, guests may request wheelchairs and wagons to use, free of charge.

Fuel up during your visit at Kitty Hawk Cafe, serving grab-n-go items, snacks, sandwiches, and other made-to-order options. Take home some extra cargo and stop by the Fly Buy Gift Shop for gifts and souvenirs. An online store is also available.

Scan the QR code to watch a video of Cassondra’s adventure to the Air Zoo.
/cassondrawanders /cassondra.wanders @cassondrawanders @cassondrawanders 7 MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES 7
Cassondra Scott is a content creator, writer, and social media influencer at Cassondra Wanders——sharing small businesses and sights to see all over the state of Michigan.


Among the many ways Great Lakes Energy seeks to empower its members is by giving them a direct say in how grants from one of our community outreach programs are distributed. From May 6–24, GLE is encouraging members to nominate a nonprofit organization that is making a difference in their communities to be considered for one of three $7,000 grants offered through the Community Grant Giveaway program.

Through 5 p.m. on May 24, GLE members can visit community-grant-giveaway to nominate a deserving nonprofit 501(c)3 group in their area. Organizations are not required to receive electric service from GLE to be eligible for a Community Grant Giveaway nomination. After the nominating period closes, GLE staff will review the submission and create a list of finalists for the cooperative’s north, central, and south regions.

Then, from June 10–21, members may return to the same site to vote on which organizations among the finalists from their area will receive one of the three $7,000 grants. One vote is allowed per member.

Completing a nomination and voting only takes a few minutes and gives GLE members an opportunity to help guide how this program makes a difference in their communities.


May 6–24


May 25–June 9


June 10–21



In the past three years, $57,000 in grants has been awarded through the Community Grant Giveaway program, which is made possible through a partnership between GLE and one of its lenders, CoBank.

Visit to see the complete rules for the program and nominate the local nonprofit that is most meaningful to you!

Enter to win a $200 energy bill credit!

Submit Your “Monuments, Statues & Memorials” photos By May 20!

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

Our May theme is Monuments, Statues & Memorials. Photos can be submitted by May 20 to be featured in the July/Aug. issue.

How To Enter

Enter the contest at Make sure to vote and encourage others to vote for you, too. The photo receiving the most votes will be printed in an issue of Michigan Country Lines along with other favorites. All photos printed in the magazine in 2024 will be entered into a drawing to win a $200 bill credit in December 2024.


1. Little wildflower, William Brooks, Newaygo

2. A boost of color, Tracy Smith, Gaylord

3. Christmas cactus in bloom, Marlene Wellmann, Kalkaska

4. Blooming barrel, Bonnie Roth, Newaygo

5. Super-sized sunflowers, Martin Van Berlo, Harbor Springs

6. Lavender bee, Maria Manfredonia, Petoskey

Flowers & Gardens




Sharon Libich, Presque Isle Electric & Gas Co-op

6–8 ounces goat cheese, softened

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 garlic clove, minced

2–3 boxes (15-count each) precooked phyllo dough mini shells (Athens brand)

½ cup prepared pesto

¼ cup diced sun-dried tomatoes and/or red bell pepper, for topping

½ cup coarsely chopped almonds

In a medium microwavable bowl, combine the goat cheese, cream cheese, and minced garlic. Stir until combined. If needed, soften in the microwave to achieve spreading consistency. Set aside. Fill each mini shell with 1 heaping teaspoon of the cheese mixture (halfway), top with a dollop of pesto, a little sun-dried tomato/ red bell pepper, and a sprinkle of almonds. Serve the (cold) tartlets immediately, as phyllo cups will soften as they sit. Use any remaining cheese mixture (if any) as a dip with crackers or even as a sandwich spread.

Watch a video of this month’s winning recipe at type/videos/

MI CO-OP Recipes WINNING RECIPE! Recipe Contest Win a $100 energy bill credit! Casseroles, due June 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
Light and fluffy recipes perfect for brunch and beyond.
10 MAY 2024


Katie Schneider, Midwest Energy & Communications

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

8 large eggs, whisked

1 cup full-fat cottage cheese (full fat has less water)

1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

½ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

2 tablespoons cornstarch

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

½ teaspoon onion powder

½ teaspoon garlic powder

¼ teaspoon kosher salt, optional

¼ teaspoon hot sauce, optional

4 strips bacon (or turkey bacon), cooked and chopped

Preheat oven to 325 F. Grease a silicone muffin pan with olive oil. Create a water bath by filling a 9x13-inch pan halfway with warm water. Set the muffin pan in the pan of water. To a blender, add the eggs, cottage cheese, cheeses,

cornstarch, all seasonings, and hot sauce. Blend on high until smooth, about 30 seconds. Divide the bacon into the cups, then fill to the top with the egg mixture. Carefully place the prepared pans onto the middle rack of the oven. Bake for 30 minutes (or longer, depending on the size of your muffin tins) and cook until the eggs are just set. The egg bites will pull slightly away from the edges when they are done. Carefully remove pans from the oven; let set for 10 minutes before using a spoon to gently loosen and remove the bites from the pan. Serve immediately or make ahead of time for busy mornings. Once cooled, store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Enjoy cold or reheat in the microwave for 30 seconds. You can also try out different cheese, vegetable, and seasoning combinations.


Kerri Hanson, Great Lakes Energy

2 tablespoons salted butter

¹⁄ ³ cup finely diced onion

12 ounces white or baby bella mushrooms, trimmed and sliced

2 cups baby spinach

6 large eggs

1 cup half-and-half

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

12 ounces grated Swiss cheese

1 unbaked pie crust

Preheat oven to 350 F. In a large sauté pan, heat the butter over medium heat until melted. Add the onion and sauté until tender, about 5–6 minutes. Add the


Nancy Hascall, Cherryland Electric Cooperative

1 unbaked pie crust (or 1.5 cups cooked rice)

1¾ cups half-and-half

1 cup shredded cheese of choice

1 heaping tablespoon jalapeño cream cheese

• pinch of salt

• dash of cayenne pepper

¼ teaspoon paprika

3 eggs

1 small bell pepper, thinly sliced

1 small red onion, thinly sliced

• Additional topping options: mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, fresh spinach, broccoli, salmon, etc.

Preheat oven to 325 F. Have ready an unbaked 8-inch deep pie crust (alternatively, press rice into pie tin to form a crust.) Heat the half-and-half just until it starts to boil. Reduce heat and add shredded cheese of choice. Add the jalapeño cream cheese. Stir until melted. Add salt, cayenne pepper, and paprika. Remove from heat and vigorously stir in the 3 eggs, one at a time. Pour into crust. Top the quiche with the thinly sliced bell peppers, red onions, and optional toppings, if using. Bake until firm, about 45 minutes.

mushrooms and sauté until the liquid has evaporated, about 5–6 minutes. Add the spinach and sauté until wilted, about 1–2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, half-and-half, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Stir in the onion/ mushroom/spinach mixture and add the Swiss cheese. Pour the mixture into the unbaked pie shell. Bake until the quiche is lightly golden and set in the center when the pan is gently wiggled, about 45-50 minutes. Cover the crust with foil if it is browning too quickly. Remove from oven and let stand 10 minutes (important)! Slice and serve.


The GLE App Is Where It’s At

Great Lakes Energy has long been committed to providing its members with power—both in the reliable, affordable electricity we provide and in many other services and programs we offer. Among these many services is access to a wealth of empowering information and tools available through the GLE mobile app.

With just a few taps, GLE’s mobile app opens the door to convenience, communication, and many enhanced services for our members. Let’s take a closer look:

Your key to convenience

With the GLE mobile app, members can perform many common accountrelated tasks with just a few taps.

• Pay your GLE or Truestream bill: Say goodbye to writing checks, paying for postage, and trips to the post office to pay your bills. You can now pay both your GLE and Truestream bills directly from the app.

• Set up or modify automatic bill payment: Enrolling in automatic bill payments can make paying your monthly bills even more convenient. You can enroll and modify your bill payment settings as needed right in the app.

• Enroll in paperless billing: Whether you take advantage of automatic bill payment or manually pay your bill each month through the app, you can cut the clutter around your house by signing up for paperless billing for your GLE account. (Note: Paperless billing is required for Truestream accounts.)

• Enroll in the People Fund: GLE’s People Fund has awarded more than $4.5 million in grants to community nonprofit organizations since 1999 using money collected from members who agree to have their electric bills rounded up to the next whole dollar. If you aren’t already participating in the People Fund, getting in on the giving is just a few taps away.

Your key to savings

Thanks to a suite of consumer analytics tools that came online earlier this year, the GLE mobile app now offers members even more empowering information about their home’s electric use. These tools allow members to get a much more detailed look at what types of uses make up their home’s total electric consumption over the course of a month.

This consumer analytics program does not directly detect the electric use of your home’s appliances and systems. Instead, it analyzes your home’s electric consumption patterns using algorithms and a process known as disaggregation to estimate the types

12 MAY 2024

of electric use taking place. Members can use this approximated data to look for opportunities to save on their energy bills.

• Energy detail: The energy detail provides a breakdown of the types of uses that make up your home’s overall energy use. Examples of these categories include heating, cooling, laundry, cooking, lighting, water heating, and always-on.

• Bill comparison: The bill comparison tool will show members how their use in many of these categories compares over time. This tool may be especially useful in determining how weather or other seasonal changes might be impacting your electric use.

• Build your home profile: If you want even better results from the consumer analytics tools, you can complete the home profile survey. By answering a series of questions about your home and the types of appliances and systems in it, you can get more refined results for your home.

• My recommendations: This section offers you energy- and moneysaving tips tailored to your home’s specific use patterns.

Your key to keeping connected

GLE’s mobile app also offers you many ways to help us stay connected with you.

• Update your contact information: It’s important that the contact information we have for you is up to date. You can verify the information we have on file is correct and make any necessary modifications through the mobile app.

• Manage your notifications: GLE offers notifications for many types of events related to billing,

consumer analytics, electric usage, account changes, outages, and more. The app allows you to choose which of these notifications you wish to receive and designate the cell phone number and/or email address to which you’d like the messages sent.

• Outage notifications: GLE recently upgraded its outage notification system, which will now provide enrolled members with more information about outages affecting their service. Now, not only can members report an outage through the mobile app, but the enhanced system will notify members who have enrolled in notifications when an outage affecting their service has been reported or detected by our system, when the outage has been verified, when a crew has been dispatched to restore the outage, and when the service has been restored.

The GLE mobile app is available for download for iPhones through Apple’s App Store and through Google Play store for Android devices. Look for the GLE logo to make sure you are downloading the correct app.

If you already have your GLE online account set up, just enter the same credentials (email/password combination) you use for your online account login.

If you haven’t yet set up your online account, you can register in a few simple steps either through the app’s login page or by visiting and clicking on the red “log in to your account” box.





In the heart of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, nestled along the Manistique River, lies Northland Outfi tters, a campground and canoe/ kayak livery that has become more than a destination; it’s a canvas for dreams. Owned by Durea and Levi Brady, a couple who embarked on an extraordinary journey from Denver to the UP, Northland Outfi tters is now not just a place for nature lovers, but a home for a giant wooden troll— named Benny.


The story begins with Durea and Levi, who had a dream of owning a campground. In 2022, after two years of exploration, they stumbled upon Northland Outfitters, an enchanting spot that felt less like a campground

and more like a natural haven. The Bradys envisioned a place where families could connect with nature, and they found it in the woods of Germfask, Michigan.

“We spent two years looking for the right camping grounds,” said Durea. “We’d begun to wonder if we’d ever locate ‘the one,’ but then we visited Germfask and we knew we’d found home.”


The Bradys had been considering additional revenue streams—and then the dream of a literal revenue stream appeared. The couple wanted something memorable and distinctive that would draw individuals to their campground and

the community they had fallen in love with. Enter Benny.

“We’d seen a natural art installation by a recycled material sculpture artist from Copenhagen, Denmark, Thomas Dambo, in Breckenridge, Colorado. It was so impactful and inspiring. We started dreaming up something like this at the campground,” said Durea. “We knew if we were going to try something like this, it needed to be a part of the natural habitat, not something artificial or out of place.”

The Bradys reached out to Dambo, who was serendipitously in the States on a tour, and agreed to meet with the couple to talk about their idea. After visions were shared, the image of Benny the Beard Fisher, resting along the riverbank, started to come to life.

14 MAY 2024


The Bradys turned to their community for support, receiving generous donations of wood from lifelong UP residents and local businesses. The result was Benny, the 14-foot-high and 30-foot-wide towering figure whose tangled wooden beard runs down the riverbank, hoping to catch something—if not a fi sh, then some admiring looks. People traveling the river on various water vessels can catch a glorious view of Benny as they round the bend. He’s also available to visit via the campground. Benny is a welcoming figure on this perfect bit of home that the Bradys have carved out for themselves.

“We absolutely think of the campground as a home,” said Durea.

Danish recycle artist Thomas Dambo breathes life into discarded wood and landfill scraps, crafting colossal sculptures of trolls. These mystical creations are scattered across 17 countries. For more information, please visit

“Maybe not a conventional one, but we have the opportunity to welcome new people into our family every few days. It’s the best feeling.”


The family feel of Northland Outfitters has made it more than a campground; it’s a place for community. Benny’s presence has brought people together, fostering a sense of pride and joy among visitors. On a busy day last summer, they brought 300–400 guests into their family fold.

Looking ahead, Durea and Levi envision not just a campground but a community hub, complete with events in the woods featuring live music, food trucks, and art tents that will solidify Northland Outfitters as its own work of art.

Benny is part of that canvas, drawing people closer to nature to discover what is both beautiful and magical about the wild.


For the comfort of Troll visitors and camping guests, visitation to Benny will be moving to a timed ticket system, beginning mid May. Tickets will need to be purchased online prior to arrival. Tickets can be purchased at




Building Community Connections

At Great Lakes Energy, creating and maintaining strong connections are critical elements of our daily operations. But these connections go far beyond the electric and fiber optic lines that provide affordable, reliable electric power and high-speed internet service to our members. As your memberowned, not-for-profit electric cooperative, it’s these connections and the sense of community belonging that comes with them that inspire our drive for continual improvement within our organization, in the lives of our members, and in the communities we serve.

Another way we pursue our mission to improve the lives of our members and the community is by providing financial support for organiza tions that make a difference in people’s lives on a daily basis:


As GLE’s flagship grant program, the People Fund has awarded more than $4.5 million in grants to nonprofit organizations across our 26-county service area. The program awards grants twice each year using money collected from GLE members who agree to have their monthly electric bills rounded up to the next whole dollar. In the past five years alone, the People Fund has awarded 397 grants worth more than $1.3 million.

Total of grant money awarded since 1999:

More than $4.5 million


This program represents another way GLE uses partnerships to push positive change in the community. The Community Grant Giveaway program allows members to nominate deserving nonprofit organizations to receive one of three $7,000 grants offered in partnership with GLE’s lending partner CoBank. Once the nomination process is complete, members then have the chance to vote on which organization in their area will receive one of the grants. In the past three years, 3,344 votes have been cast in deciding $57,000 in grants.

Total of grant money awarded in past three years. $57,000

Because we are a part of the communities we serve, we know there are many worthwhile events, programs, and community activities that depend heavily on sponsorships. We are proud to lend our name, logo, and financial support to these many worthwhile programs and events that serve as an important thread in the fabric of the communities we serve. In the past five years, GLE has awarded more than $70,000 in sponsorships for events and programs throughout our service area.

Amount GLE has awarded in sponsorships in the past five years. $70,644

Learn more about GLE’s many community outreach programs at
16 MAY 2024




Michigan electric cooperatives believe there should be “No Barriers” for veterans with disabilities. That’s the name and idea behind CoBank’s No Barriers initiative. Michigan cooperatives are looking for qualified veterans* from our local community to participate.

No Barriers is a five-day, all-expenses-paid expedition in Colorado, designed to help veterans with disabilities transform their lives through curriculum-based experiences in challenging environments (climbing, rafting, and hiking).

If you are a disabled veteran or you know of a disabled veteran in our community who would like to participate in the No Barriers program, please apply directly at

If you have questions about the application process or need assistance filling out an application, please contact us at: 970-484-3633, ext. 305

Learn more about No Barrier’s mission and programs at

*Must have VA disability rating to be eligible.




Win a $100 energy bill credit!

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 $100 electric bill credit. Enter your guess at

March 2024 Winner! Our Mystery Photo winner is Allan Hascall, a Cherryland Electric Cooperative member who correctly identified the photo as the 24-foot monument The American Horse at the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids.

Winners are announced in the following issues of Country Lines: January, March, May, July/ August, September, and November/December.

Worms of Misfortune

n the summer of 1937, my older sister Barb and I found ourselves knee-deep in dirt, our fingers stained with the earth’s secrets. Our family’s home was in Hillman, Michigan, a couple blocks from the Thunder Bay River. The Great Depression had gnawed at our livelihood, leaving us with little more than stubborn resolve and empty pockets.

IOne of the stores in town sold bait for fi shing, and so my sister and I went in and asked how much we would earn if we dug up worms. The manager answered 10 cents for 100 worms.

With shovels and a shared desperation, we headed out near the Thunder Bay River to dig up worms. Our hands plunging into the cool earth, we pulled out the worms one by one. The worms squirmed, protesting their eviction.

We were on a mission—to turn soil into silver.

I had the great idea to cut the worms in half to double our profit! 20 cents was a great deal of money back in that day. So, we took the 200 worms

into the store, and we were handed the 20 cents. We were so excited, we couldn’t wait to tell our mother.

Well, word had gotten back to our mom about what we did, and when we arrived home and showed our mom the 20 cents, she said “We are all going back to the store to return that man’s 20 cents.” Both my sister and I said, “But why, Mom?” She replied, “You cheated that poor man by cutting those worms in half to get more money. You should be ashamed of yourselves!”

Now, at 96 years old, I sit on my couch and look back at all the fun we had growing up in our little town of Hillman. Barb is long gone, but her laughter dances in the wind.

Remember this tale when life throws you a curveball—sometimes the early bird doesn’t get the worm!

About the Author:

Margaret is retired and likes to fish, read, play Scattegories, and watch nature programs. She is an outgoing person who loves people and parties too.

MI CO-OP Guest Column Guest Column Win $200 for stories published! Share your fondest memories and stories. Win $200 for stories published. Visit to submit.
18 MAY 2024

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