Oct 2021 HomeWorks

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October 2021


COUNTRY LINES HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative

BEACON OF HOPE Meet Neal Swain, Tri-County Propane’s New Manager

October Is National Co-op Month Investment In Tree Clearing Keeps The Lights On

How North Manitou Light Keepers Are Protecting Maritime History


Feeling is believing.

You may not see your underground WaterFurnace geothermal system. But you’ll definitely notice its effects. When it comes to your HVAC system, you primarily want to know whether it will comfortably heat and cool your home. With WaterFurnace, that answer is a resounding “yes.” Our units operate for longer periods at lower speeds, providing stable temperatures all year round. This helps eliminate hot or cold spots, so you’ll be comfortable in every room. Experience a WaterFurnace geothermal system in action, and you’ll feel the difference. Geothermal is the only renewable that provides reliable operation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Contact Your Local WaterFurnace Dealer 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.

Contents countrylines.com


October 2021 Vol. 41, No. 9 /michigancountrylines

6 ROAD TRIPPIN' Christal Frost visits the Old Mission Peninsula to probe a ghost story (and vindicate the so-called ghost). 10 MI CO-OP KITCHEN Around the World: These recipes will transport you to all the corners of the globe.

Michigan’s Electric Cooperatives

14 BEACON OF HOPE Buying a lighthouse may seem like an unlikely venture … but it’s exactly what one group of friends did to restore the North Manitou Shoal Light Station to its former glory.

EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Casey Clark EDITOR: Christine Dorr


RECIPE EDITOR: Christin McKamey COPY EDITOR: Yvette Pecha CONTRIBUTING EDITOR: Emily Haines Lloyd

18 GUEST COLUMN Small Town Success: Toni Leaf-Odette's grandfather was a hard worker who opened his own business, but it was his generosity and love of his neighbors that made him a pillar of the community.

PUBLISHER: Michigan Electric Cooperative Association Michigan Country Lines, USPS-591-710, is published monthly, except August and December, with periodicals postage paid at Lansing, Mich., and additional offices. It is the official publication of the Michigan Electric Cooperative Association, 201 Townsend St., Suite 900, Lansing, MI 48933. Subscriptions are authorized for members of Alger Delta, Cherryland, Great Lakes, HomeWorks Tri-County, Midwest Energy & Communications, Ontonagon, Presque Isle, and Thumb electric cooperatives by their boards of directors. Postmaster: Send all UAA to CFS. Association Officers: Robert Kran, Great Lakes Energy, chairman; Tony Anderson, Cherryland Electric Cooperative, vice chairman; Eric Baker, Wolverine Power Cooperative, secretary-treasurer; Craig Borr, president and CEO.

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


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.

Be featured!


You can now sleep under the stars in a “hammock-only campsite” at Port Crescent State Park on Lake Huron. The sites were switched over to hammocks due to shoreline erosion, which made them unsuitable for campers. Such a great idea! @christina.b.lee

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!

Win $150 for stories published!

Up Next: Asian Inspired, due Nov. 1; Sweet Treats, due Dec. 1; Italian, due Jan 1.

Submit your fondest memories and stories at countrylines.com/community.

Submit your recipe at micoopkitchen.com, or send it via email (include your full name and co-op) to recipes@countrylines.com.



Seven Cooperative Principles Help To Inform The Co-op Difference

homeworks.org /homeworks.org

By Chris O’Neill, CEO

tricoenergy@homeworks.org Portland office/Mail payments to: 7973 E. Grand River Ave. Portland, MI 48875 Open 8 a.m.–5 p.m. Monday–Friday

Blanchard office: 3681 Costabella Ave. Blanchard, MI 49310 Open 8 a.m.–5 p.m. Monday–Friday Night deposit box available at both locations. Electric bill/account questions: 517-647-7554 or 1-800-562-8232 Pay by phone, anytime: 1-877-999-3395

Service questions/outages: 517-647-7554 or 1-800-848-9333 (24 hours for emergency calls) Tri-County Propane: 1-877-574-2740

HomeWorks Connect 1-800-668-8413 BOARD OF DIRECTORS

District 1 — John Lord, Vice-Chairman 2276 Plains Rd., Leslie, MI 49251 517-974-2518 • jlord@homeworks.org

District 2 — Jim Stebbins 7139 Peddler Lake Rd., Clarksville, MI 48815 616-693-2449 • jstebbins@homeworks.org District 3 — Luke Pohl, Chairman 15560 W. Hanses Rd., Westphalia, MI 48894 989-292-0427 • lpohl@homeworks.org District 4 — Kimber Hansen 6535 N. Wyman Rd., Edmore, MI 48829 989-506-5849 • khansen@homeworks.org District 5 — Corinna Batora 7655 N. Watson Rd., Elsie, MI 48831 517-256-5233 • cbatora@homeworks.org

District 6 — Ed Oplinger, Secretary-Treasurer 10890 W. Weidman Rd., Weidman, MI 48893 989-644-3079 • eoplinger@homeworks.org District 7 — Shirley Sprague 15563 45th Ave., Barryton, MI 49305 989-382-7535 • ssprague@homeworks.org Editor: C harly Markwart, CCC


ou may have noticed that one topic I often mention here in this column and elsewhere is the “Cooperative Difference.” I’m proud to lead a not-for-profit electric cooperative owned by the members we serve, dedicated solely to serving the needs of our local rural communities. Cooperatives are a unique business model dating back to 19th-century Britain. Co-ops are typically formed when individuals come together to solve a shared problem through collaborative action, like when farmers in Eaton, Ingham, and Jackson counties joined to form Tri-County Electric Cooperative in 1937 to serve their need for electricity on their farms. You might not realize that your local credit unions are cooperatives, as are several nationally recognized businesses such as Sunkist, Ocean Spray, Land O’Lakes, Sunbeam Bread, Ace Hardware, and Associated Press News. More than 900 electric cooperatives serve over 20 million homes and businesses across rural America. Like the well-known co-ops mentioned above, we are all linked together by the Seven Cooperative Principles. October is National Co-op Month, so I thought this would be a good time to highlight these important principles that guide us in every decision we make and everything we do every day to serve you.

Voluntary and Open Membership Cooperatives are voluntary organizations, open to all persons able to use their services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, without gender, social, racial, political, or religious discrimination.

Democratic Member Control Cooperatives are democratic organizations controlled by their members, who actively set policies and make decisions. The elected representatives are accountable to the membership. In primary cooperatives like HomeWorks, members have equal voting rights; every member has a voice and a vote! 4 OCTOBER 2021

Members’ Economic Participation Members contribute equitably to and democratically control the capital of their cooperative. Members usually receive limited compensation, if any, on capital subscribed as a condition of membership. Members typically allocate surpluses to develop the cooperative and support other activities approved by the membership.

Autonomy and Independence Cooperatives are autonomous, selfhelp organizations controlled by their members. If they enter into agreements with other organizations, including governments, or raise capital from external sources, they do so on terms that ensure democratic control by their members and maintain their cooperative autonomy.

Education, Training, and Information Cooperatives provide education and training for their members, elected representatives, managers, and employees to contribute effectively to the development of their organizations. They inform the general public, particularly young people and opinion leaders, about the nature and benefits of cooperation.

Cooperation Among Cooperatives Cooperatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the cooperative movement by working together through local, national, regional, and international structures.

Concern for Community While focusing on member needs, cooperatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies accepted by their members.




October Is National Co-op Month.

Did you know electric co-ops power more than 20 million homes, farms, businesses, and schools across America? Here in rural mid-Michigan, HomeWorks is proud to have served generations of families like yours since 1937.


CLEARING JENNIE’S NAME The Truth Behind The Ghost Of Bowers Harbor

By Christal Frost || Photos courtesy of Jordan Anderson

ocated snugly between East and West Grand Traverse Bays is Old Mission Peninsula: a 19-milelong, three-mile-wide stretch of land that harbors history, beauty, and award-winning wine. Ten wineries grace the breathtaking landscape throughout the peninsula, which is also dotted with farm stands, restaurants, and even a historic lighthouse. The Old Mission Peninsula is also home to many legendary stories. One story in particular, the story of Genevieve “Jennie” Stickney and the Bowers Harbor Inn, has spread beyond the rolling hills of Old Mission and into the hearts and minds of visitors across the world. But what is the true story of Jennie Stickney? And is she still wandering the halls of her former residence?


As the legend goes, Jennie and her husband, Charles Stickney, purchased a farm on Old Mission Peninsula in 1909. Like many Northern Michigan residents today, the Stickneys spent their winters in warmer locations but returned to work the farmland each summer. Their original farmhouse was damaged in 1927, and the couple hired their nephew to design and build the beautiful property now home to the Mission Table and Jolly Pumpkin restaurant. Rumors have spread that Jennie was a jealous woman who suffered from diabetes and obesity. It is said that her husband was having an affair with the nurse he hired to care for Jennie, and their affair drove her to hang herself from the rafters



of the elevator shaft Mr. Stickney had installed. The rumors continued that Charles Stickney continued his relationship with the nurse and even left his entire fortune to her upon his death. However, like many rumors, those details are mostly false. In an October 2014 edition of the Grand Traverse Journal, author and historian Julie Schopieray set out to tell the true story of Jennie Stickney and clear her name. Schopieray writes that Jennie and her husband had hired a widowed nurse to care for them in their aging years. The couple became very close to their nurse and her children, and all of them traveled with the Stickneys for many years. Charles Stickney was in a wheelchair, which is why the elevator was installed. Jennie (not Genevieve, as the legend claims) actually died of heart disease, diabetes, and possible dementia in March 1947 at the coupleʼs winter suite in Grand Rapids. After her death, Charles Stickney returned, along with his nurse, to his home on Old Mission Peninsula and stayed for two years before he passed away. Stickney did, indeed, leave his wealth to his nurse and her children, as he and Jennie had no heirs. Although it is possible that Charles Stickney and his nurse did have an affair that prompted him to choose her as the recipient of his fortune, Schopieray writes, “The real story is about two elderly people who needed help from their





Michigan’s oldest, continually operating, historic bed & breakfast.


Surrounded by forests and incredible beaches, the Mission Point Lighthouse is a must-see for OMP visitors. widowed nurse, a person to whom Charles Stickney did leave his worldly possessions, but only out of respect and gratitude.” Although the details of her death and portions of her life have been grossly mischaracterized, the presence of Jennie Stickney’s spirit is well-known among the staff and visitors at Mission Table and Jolly Pumpkin. Stories of paranormal pranks continue to this day. Those who have felt her presence have welcomed the experience, even feeling honored to be recognized by Jennie. After all, Jennie Stickney was a woman known for entertaining, and she loved to be at the center of gatherings. It appears that she continues in that role, nearly 75 years later, as a beloved and eternal fixture of the Old Mission Peninsula.

2 Lads Winery


It’s not a trip to the Old Mission Peninsula without stopping in for a wine tasting or two. Check out the Old Mission Wine Trail to map out Tabone your wine tour! Vineyards ompwinetrail.com

Chateau Chantal Winery and Inn

Bowers Harbor Vineyards Brys Estate Vineyard & Winery

Mission Table

37 Chateau Grand Traverse

Christal Frost is a media personality based out of Traverse City. Her show airs weekdays from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. on WTCM NewsTalk 580.

Peninsula Cellars

Hawthorne Vineyards

Mari Vineyards Black Star Farms



Christal Frost filmed her adventure, now available on countrylines.com. 7

Notice to Members of HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative A Special Member Meeting is set for Oct. 25, 9 a.m., at the Cooperative’s Blanchard office* The board of directors will consider the item(s) listed below at its meeting on Oct. 25, 2021, to be held at the Cooperative office at 3681 Costabella Ave., Blanchard, Michigan.* The meeting will begin at 9 a.m. and is open to all HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Cooperative members. The session will begin with an opportunity for members to provide direct input to the board of directors without filing a formal request under the Cooperative policy. Interested members are asked to come to the lobby by 9 a.m. and request to speak to the board; staff will direct members to the meeting room.* Time constraints on each member’s comments will be at the discretion of the board president, but members are asked to keep comments to less than five minutes. The following item(s) will be discussed and considered: 1. Establishing the Cooperative’s Power Supply Cost Recovery (PSCR) factor for 2022. The PSCR factor refers to the rate to be charged to reflect power supply costs incurred but not included in the base rate. The PSCR factor, to be applied to the Cooperative’s retail Member-Customers’ monthly-kilowatt-hour use, represents the power supply costs established by the Cooperative in conjunction with Wolverine Power Cooperative. The factor is established annually and reviewed monthly. Notice of changes or additions to the Cooperative’s rates or service rules shall be sent to all members, as required by P.A. 167, by publication in Michigan Country Lines at least 30 days prior to their effective date. Participation: Any interested member may attend and participate in the meeting. The location of the board meeting site is accessible, including accessible parking.* Persons needing any accommodation to participate should contact HomeWorks TriCounty Electric at 800-562-8232 at least a week in advance of the meeting to request mobility, visual, hearing, or other assistance. Comments may also be made prior to the meeting date by calling CEO Chris O’Neill at 517-647-1284 or contacting him via email at coneill@homeworks.org. Notice of the board meeting shall be sent to all members, as required by P.A. 167, by publication in Michigan Country Lines. *Note: At print time, the Oct. 25 board meeting is scheduled to take place in person at the Co-op’s Blanchard office. However, dependent on any public health guidelines, safety regulations, and/or executive orders that are issued related to the COVID-19 pandemic, it could be determined that the meeting needs to be held remotely instead (in which case remote access to the meeting would be provided to any Member-Customer who wished to attend). Any interested member is asked to contact the Co-op at 800-562-8232 at least one week prior to the meeting to confirm the meeting location.

IT COULD BE HAUNTING YOUR HOME AND COSTING YOU MONEY. When devices are plugged in, they still use power even when not in use. That’s wasted energy and money.  Unplug unused appliances.  Use power strips to turn off TVs, computers, and gaming consoles.  Shut off electronics automatically with smart power strips.

CONTACT US TODAY FOR INFORMATION 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 Nov. 30, 2021. Other restrictions may apply. For complete program details, visit michigan-energy.org.


Enter to win a


energy bill credit!

Pet Costumes 1. Fran Maloziec of Canadian Lakes says, “This is Owen the pug sitting in his chair watching the game with his dad.” 2. Jan Malhoit of Canton (receiving service in Rodney) says, “Our cat, Bubbles, loves the Christmas holiday!” 3. Lindsay Uzarski of Remus submitted this photo of her dog, Vienna, dressed as a shark. 4. Corinne Curtis of Barryton captured this shot of her Cardigan Welsh corgi, River, dressed up aptly like a river. 5. Glenda Adams of Evart says, “This is Clementine and Rudy wearing their nautical-themed costumes!” 6. Sherry Cole of Mecosta says, “I tried to convert our dog, Ginger, with our daughter’s angel costume, but it didn’t work; Ginger’s devilish behavior continued for over 19 years!”







Upcoming Snap Shot Contest Topics and Deadlines Fire & Ice, due Nov. 15 (January 2022 issue) Watch for the announcement of our additional 2022 photo contest themes and deadlines in our November/December 2021 issue. Go to HomeWorks.org, select the Energy tab, then choose Member Services>Country Lines to submit your photos and see all of the 2021 Snap Shot themes. It’s fast and easy. To send by mail: include your name, address, phone number, photographer’s name, and details about your photo. Mail to Attn: Country Lines Snap Shots, 7973 E. Grand River Ave., Portland, MI 48875. Photos will not be returned. Do not send color laser prints or professional studio photos.

Submit Your Photos! Members whose photos we publish in Country Lines in 2021 will receive a $10 bill credit the month after publication.



MI CO-OP Recipes

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

AROUND THE WORLD Take a journey without leaving your kitchen.


EASY ASIAN SHRIMP STIR-FRY Judy Wojcik, Great Lakes Energy

2 tablespoons cooking oil (olive or sesame) 12 ounces shrimp (raw, tails removed, peeled and deveined) 1 cup snow peas 1 tablespoon grated raw ginger root 1 (8-ounce) can sliced water chestnuts, drained ½ teaspoon five-spice powder ¼ cup orange marmalade



energy bill credit!

10 OCTOBER 2021

Asian Inspired due Nov. 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 recipes@countrylines.com.

Heat oil in a wok over high heat. Add shrimp and heat until they start to turn pink. Add snow peas, ginger root, and water chestnuts. Sprinkle with five-spice powder and cover. When peas are bright green, remove cover. When liquid is almost gone, add marmalade. Stir until dissolved. Serve immediately over cooked rice. Serves 2–3. Cooking time is about 10 minutes. Watch a video of this month’s winning recipe at micoopkitchen.com/videos


Angela Nobel, Great Lakes Energy 4 egg whites, at room temperature 1¼ cup white sugar 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 1 teaspoon lemon juice 2 teaspoons cornstarch 1 pint heavy whipping cream • fresh fruit (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, mandarin oranges, etc.) Preheat oven to 300 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Add sugar in one tablespoon at a time, and beat

until thick and glossy. Gently fold in vanilla, lemon juice, and cornstarch. Spoon mixture onto the parchment paper, either in one large pile or several individual piles. When cooked, the mixture does not grow, so whatever size you decide is the size it will be. Working from the center of the pile(s), spread the mixture out a bit, building up the edges slightly to leave a slight depression in the center. Bake for 1 hour and cool on a wire rack. While cooling, beat heavy whipping cream until stiff peaks form. Once meringue(s) has cooled, remove paper and fill the center with the whipping cream and top with choice of fruit. I had this on a mission trip to Ireland, and the Irish family used mandarin oranges to top the pavlova.

KOREAN STREET TACOS Leslie Brasure, Alger Delta

Marinade: 1 pound flank steak, cut against grain into bite-sized pieces 2 tablespoons soy sauce 2 tablespoons sugar 2 cloves garlic, minced 2 teaspoons sesame oil 3 teaspoons water 1 teaspoon mirin Dressing: 1 tablespoon soy sauce 1½ teaspoons lime juice 1½ teaspoons sesame oil ¼ teaspoon sugar Other Ingredients: 1½ cups romaine lettuce, chopped 1 cup napa cabbage, chopped ¼ cup shredded carrots ¼ cup cilantro, chopped ¼ cup green onions, diced • small flour tortillas (I use street taco size) • sriracha sauce • lime wedges


2 medium russet potatoes, peeled & divided ²⁄ ³ cup all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon baking powder ½ teaspoon salt ²⁄ ³ cup buttermilk 4 tablespoons butter, divided Cut 1 potato into 1-inch chunks; place in small saucepan and add cold water

In a large ziplock bag, combine marinade sauce ingredients (soy sauce, sugar, garlic, sesame oil, water, and mirin). Place the sliced meat in the marinade and refrigerate for 2–24 hours. Combine the dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Whisk until well combined; set aside. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat and coat with cooking spray. Once hot, add the steak and cook for 2–3 minutes, stirring often until it is cooked to your desired degree of doneness. Remove from pan and set aside. Pour some of the marinade into the pan and cook on high for 2–3 minutes until it has boiled and reduced a bit. Pour the reduced marinade onto the cooked beef and toss to coat evenly. Toss lettuce, cabbage, carrots, cilantro, and green onions with dressing. Layer meat and salad mixture on warmed tortillas. Serve with sriracha sauce and lime wedge. Enjoy! This is a frequent request from my granddaughter, Katja.

to cover. Bring to a boil and cook until tender. Drain, mash the potato, and transfer to a bowl. Shred remaining potato on large holes of box grater and add to mashed potato. Stir in flour, baking powder, and salt until blended. Stir in buttermilk. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in large skillet over medium heat. Drop four slightly heaping tablespoonfuls of batter into skillet. Flatten into 2½-inch circles—— cook about 4 minutes per side or until golden and puffed. Transfer to plate and cover to keep warm. Repeat with remaining batter and butter. Serve with applesauce, sour cream, or maple syrup.



This picture of HomeWorks’ overhead lines shows how we strive to maintain our entire system, with clear rights-of-way around the lines that result in less chance of outages and easier access for upgrades.

Their right-of-w ay


Our right-of-way

In this shot of a neighboring Michigan utility’s electric system, you might struggle to make out the overhead lines between the electric poles, due to the thick trees and vegetation surrounding and touching the lines.

HomeWorks’ Commitment To Tree Clearing Results In Better Reliability For Members Have you ever noticed, in the immediate aftermath of a storm or strong wind event in your area, that you still have electricity while perhaps your neighbors across the way or your relatives down the street who are served by a different utility are in the dark? The pictures above might give you a glimpse into why that happens. Your power was 99.95% reliable in 2020, and HomeWorks prides itself on providing members with the most reliable power possible, year in and year out. Since trees and branches touching electric lines are proven to be the top cause of power outages and blinks, a major element of our ability to provide that reliability is our investment in preventative maintenance across our system. This includes the routine clearing of vegetation from the rights-of-way around our 3,000-plus miles of electric lines. While many utility companies wait until an outage occurs before sending crews out to clear trees around their lines, we maintain a regular seven-year cycle of right-of-way clearing. That means every single overhead line across our service territory is intentionally cleared of trees once every seven years. “That seven-year cycle is way ahead of what most other utilities are doing,” says HomeWorks CEO Chris O’Neill. “We’re doing the things other utilities aren’t doing in order to provide our members with reliability that can’t be beat. Reliability is the number-one concern for our electric members. They just want their lights to stay on, and it’s our mission to achieve that for them.”

“We’re doing the things other utilities aren’t doing in order to provide our members with reliability that can’t be beat.” - Chris O’Neill The amount of space required for overhead electric line clearance is determined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service, based on the line’s voltage. Across HomeWorks’ system, our 7,200-volt distribution lines require a 30-foot right-of-way, while the service wire from our transformer to your home typically requires less clearance. If there is a tree within the clearance area on your property, or if you notice a “danger tree” touching or leaning on our electric lines, please do not attempt to cut or remove the tree yourself. Simply call us at 800-562-8232 and we will come out to take a look at it, free of charge. To learn about proper planting techniques near electric lines, visit https://www.HomeWorks.org/reliability. “Our members can really help us out in our reliability efforts by planting trees a proper distance from our lines on their property, letting us know if they notice vegetation within our rights-of-way, and understanding that when we come out to trim or remove trees in their area, we are simply doing what it takes to provide them with safe and reliable electricity,” says O’Neill.

Your Board In Action Meeting at Portland on Aug. 23, your board of directors: • Seated District 3 Director Luke Pohl and District 6 Director Ed Oplinger, both re-elected in May 2021, to begin their new three-year terms.

• Re-elected the current slate of board officers for another one-year term: Luke Pohl as chairman, John Lord as vice chairman, and Ed Oplinger as secretary-treasurer. • Voted unanimously in support of holding the Cooperative’s 2021 Annual Meeting of Delegates virtually, due to concerns over the recent surge in COVID-19 cases throughout the HomeWorks service territory.

• Authorized management to immediately negotiate fiber make-ready contracts, with a 50% prepayment of up to $700,000, and to immediately negotiate 2022 HomeWorks Connect fiber labor contracts and material costs, in order to secure favorable pricing during a time of increasing costs.

• Reviewed and accepted the Cooperative’s Form 990 (for nonprofit organizations), and authorized staff to file the completed form with the IRS. • Appointed Chairman Luke Pohl as the Co-op’s voting delegate and CEO Chris O’Neill as the alternate voting delegate for the upcoming district meeting of the Cooperative Finance Cooperation (CFC).

• Received a monthly progress update on the HomeWorks Connect fiber internet business. • Discussed and accepted Policy 209 – Business Ethics, Conduct, and Conflict of Interest, as revised.

• Learned there were 144 new members in July.

• Acknowledged the July safety report, listing employee training as well as minor public incidents involving electric, propane, or fiber optic.

Time Set Aside for Members to Comment Before Cooperative Board Meetings The first 15 minutes of every board meeting are available for members who wish to address the board of directors on any subject. The next meetings are scheduled for 9 a.m. on Oct. 25 at Blanchard and 9 a.m. on Nov. 22 at Portland. However, at the time of this printing, some of our meetings are temporarily being conducted remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Members who wish to have items considered on the board agenda should call 517-647-7554.

People Fund Supports Local Causes With Over $19,000 In September Grants Meeting remotely on Sept. 1, our People Fund board made six grants totaling $19,250, including: • $10,000 to the IM Safe Child Advocacy Center in Fenwick, to support services for abused children;

• $2,500 to an Isabella County family, to help pay for a drain field;

• $2,500 to a Montcalm County family, to help cover the costs of floor repairs in their home; • $2,500 to a Montcalm County family, to help pay for a drain field; • $1,500 to an Isabella County family, to assist with medical bills; and

• $250 to the M46 Tabernacle Food Pantry in Riverdale, to purchase food items.

How to Apply for a Tri-County Electric People Fund Grant The Tri-County Electric People Fund provides grants to individuals and organizations in the Co-op’s service area for food, shelter, clothing, health, and other humane needs, or for programs or services that benefit a significant segment of a community. Write to 7973 E. Grand River Ave., Portland, MI 48875, for an application form and grant guidelines, or visit the People Fund page at HomeWorks.org. Note: Applications must be received by Nov. 23 for the December meeting.


The Crib with its new paint job, pictured here at sunrise.

BEACON OF HOPE How North Manitou Light Keepers Are Protecting Maritime History By Emily Haines Lloyd


here is a mystery, magic, and something altogether romantic about lighthouses. Whether it’s tales of swarthy sea captains and ghost-like specters wandering catwalks or the simple metaphor of light in the darkness leading one to safety, lighthouses feel like they have stories to tell.

The Crib, pictured here in 2016, was rusted and covered in bird guano when NMLK acquired it and began restoration.

14 OCTOBER 2021

The story of North Manitou Shoal Light Station, built in 1935 and known locally as The Crib, in the straits between the Manitou Islands and Sleeping Bear Dunes, has its own rescue story to tell. It starts with a peculiar notice in 2016 alerting the public that there would be open

bidding on The Crib in a public auction. If you’re wondering how one goes about purchasing a lighthouse, ask a group of friends who collectively are the North Manitou Light Keepers (NMLK), a nonprofit group formed specifically to purchase, restore, and open this maritime treasure to the public. In their everyday lives, these lighthouse rescuers are known as Todd and Natalie Buckley, Dave and Sherry McWilliam, Jake and Suzanne Kaberle, and Dan and Anna Oginsky, who all live and work around Michigan. “Within just a few days, a couple of my friends had mentioned there was ‘this lighthouse’ for sale,” remembers Dan Oginsky, president of North Manitou

We wanted to honor the Coast Guard and the noble work they and this lighthouse did to keep people safe in the straits. We also want to build community, giving people something positive to rally around.

The founding members of NMLK on a Crib Cruise in 2017, pictured left to right: Anna and Dan Oginsky, Jake Kaberle (wife Suzanne not pictured), Dave and Sherry McWilliam, and Todd and Natalie Buckley.

Light Keepers and Great Lakes Energy member. “At first, you can’t help but think—‘how cool would it be to own a lighthouse?’ It’s only later you start to realize what a big undertaking it’s going to be.” Dan, his wife, Anna, and their friends realized that if they were serious, they needed to create a more formal organization and started NMLK as a nonprofit to explore the specifics of what custodianship of a lighthouse would look like. They decided to move forward with the bidding process and came up against one other serious bidder, each day outbidding the Light Keepers and testing their resolve. Finally, the team decided just one more bid, and then it was time to step away gracefully. They placed their final offer … only to be outbid once again. “With 24 hours between bidding rounds, we had a few hours left when my wife, Anna, came to me and asked, ‘Would you be mad if I thought we should bid once more?’” Dan said. Anna had finally taken a long look at the pictures of The Crib and told Dan, “It told me not to give up on it.” The Light Keepers conferred and made one last bid. With that final bid, they secured the lighthouse. It’s an exciting story of an endearing victory, except now the Light Keepers had a “mothballed” lighthouse, covered in guano (yup, bird excrement), and the mighty task ahead to restore it to some former glory.

—Dan Oginsky

With a laundry list of not-inexpensive tasks to complete, the Light Keepers drew on the community and the affinity so many have for lighthouses. The team set an ambitious five-year goal to have The Crib ready for its first visitors in July 2021. “We wanted to honor the Coast Guard and the noble work they and this lighthouse did to keep people safe in the straits," said Dan. “We also want to build community, giving people something positive to rally around.” In the end, more than 160 bags of garbage, guano, and debris were hauled away from The Crib. Then scaffolding was built so that the lighthouse could be blasted, primed, and painted. Next came the removal of steel plates and 1930s windows and the replacement with new, clear glass— letting the light shine on the inside for the first time since the 1980s. The NMLK is already looking at phase 2 of the project, which involves

renovating the lighthouse’s interior— including a kitchen, great room, and multiple sleeping quarters that would allow individuals to stay overnight at The Crib. While always keeping things moving forward, the Light Keepers were able to take a moment to celebrate. With two weeks to spare, the first visitors took a charter out to The Crib for a tour, with more scheduled throughout the summer. NMLK is looking to expand tours more next summer and recommends signing up for their newsletter and membership at northmanitoulightkeepers.org to be the first to know. So if you’ve ever wanted to visit a maritime feat in the middle of one of the country’s most beautiful areas, or have ever dreamed of being part of a rescue mission of history, maybe it’s time to see some folks about The Crib and what it means to be a lightkeeper.

Getting power out to The Crib is a big part of phase 2 planning. Once NMLK started talking to folks in the community about how to power up, community members connected the team to Cherryland Electric Cooperative, who recently went out to The Crib to test equipment and see what it would take to power up the mighty beacon.




You’ve been patiently awaiting the arrival of HomeWorks Connect high-speed fiber internet at your home, but you’re not sure just how much longer you’ll be waiting. Sound familiar? While it’s not always possible for us to give a firm ETA on exactly when to expect your installation, there are some easy steps you can take to gain a better understanding of how soon our internet service will be available to you. STEP 1: Find Out Which Zone You’re In If you haven’t already, visit Join.HomeWorksConnect.org and enter your addess. This will show you which of our zones your home is located in. You should also input a good email address and finish the preregistration process. This will allow us to send you important communications, such as your service agreement! We won’t use your email address for anything that is not directly related to the HomeWorks Connect progress being made in your area. STEP 2: Find Out Which Step Your Zone Is In After you find out which zone you’re in, you can visit the “Zones” page at Join.HomeWorksConnect.org. You’ll see that your zone is color-coded depending on which step it’s in. Each step is broken down in detail in the chart to the right and on the HomeWorks Connect website. STEP 3: Check Your Zone’s Progress Follow along on the HomeWorks Facebook page or at Join.HomeWorksConnect.org for updates on progress in your area! On the HomeWorks Connect website, some steps of the connection process will show a progress bar tracking completion of that step for your zone. Have questions? Please call us at 800-668-8413!


This is the time when you and your neighbors need to actively sign up online to tell us you want fiber internet service. When we are ready to start the “Design” step in a new area, we look at the top zones in this step. By the end of our network buildout, we plan to make access to our internet service available to every single HomeWorks electric member.


Zones in this step have been selected to be part of our active phase. We’ve been building approximately one phase per year, announcing the new phase area, including all of the zones in that phase, at the beginning of each year. In 2021, we are building out Phase 4 of the five phases it will take to connect our entire service area. When in this step, we are actively designing and preparing your area for the construction of our network. Your zone could be in this step for up to one year.


You’ll begin to see commotion in your area as we begin to construct our network there. You’ll also receive your contract via the email address you used to preregister. Generally, we wait for enough residents to sign up before we move to the “Connections” step, so that it’s cost effective to build the network. Zones are usually in this step for two or three months before we are able to begin connecting homes of members who have signed their contracts.


Congrats! Zones in this step are actively seeing homes connected to our fiber internet network. Depending on the size of your zone, there is typically a six- to eight-week wait for homes to be connected in this step. If you sign your contract before your zone exits this step, you’ll receive free installation!


Service is active throughout the zone. We are still accepting new fiber internet customers in these areas, although an installation fee may be charged. After you preregister, call 800-668-8413 for more information.

DON’T MISS OUT! Our internet packages start at just $54.95/mo. for 100 Mbps.

New Manager, Same Commitment To Providing Unmatched Service At Tri-County Propane When longtime HomeWorks employee Neal Swain stepped into the role of Tri-County Propane Operations Manager in August, it felt like he was coming back home. After all, 12 of his first 13 years with the Cooperative were spent working on the propane team, as a delivery driver and team lead. In 2018, he moved out of propane into the newly created position of fleet and facilities coordinator for the Co-op, but he says he always kept a heart for Tri-County Propane and its customers. “I really enjoyed what I did in fleet and facilities, don’t get me wrong, but I missed getting out in the field and meeting with the customers,” he says. “When the operations manager position became available, I knew I had to go for it because it would give me the chance to work directly with the customers again. I’m excited to hit the ground running.” Part of that excitement stems from the fact that he is taking over the helm at a time when there’s big potential for growth. “I’m excited to be given the opportunity to lead Tri-County Propane into technological advances to better serve our customers with reliable and affordable propane,” he says.

“I’m excited to be given the opportunity to lead Tri-County Propane into technological advances to better serve our customers with reliable and affordable propane.” - Neal Swain HomeWorks CEO Chris O’Neill looks forward to seeing where Swain will take the Co-op’s propane subsidiary, but he says existing customers can rest assured that they’ll never lose the reliability and unmatched customer service they’ve always counted on from Tri-County Propane. “Neal brings us two sides of the coin, both the innovation factor and the continuity with what we’ve done in the past,” says O’Neill. “That’s what I’m most excited about in hiring him to lead our propane team; he’s a great talent who will bring new ideas to take us into the future, but I know he’ll also steadfastly maintain our commitment to service. Since he joined the Co-op team in 2005, Neal’s first priority has always been to meet the needs of our members and customers, and it’s that focus that will make him a very effective manager.”

Interested In Tri-County Propane Service?

Call us at 877-574-2740!


Guest Column

Small Town Success By Toni Leaf-Odette, Cherryland Electric Cooperative member


y grandfather, Gerald Gaultier, was born and raised in the local town of South Boardman. He served in the United States Air Force as a B-47 jet mechanic. In the 1960s, he and his wife, Elaine, opened Boardman Valley Construction. He often worked for free (picture 50 invoices hanging by a tack on the living room wall), but he once told me, “I don’t believe we were put here to amass a fortune.” He shared his time on the school, hospital, and church boards, Kiwanis, and others, and would pull his truck over just to visit local folks. He was rooted in the business of people. I remember the phone ringing at all hours and him up with the sun until long after dark. He was a township supervisor for four decades. As a teenager, during the voting time, I would see other people’s names on signs. I asked him why he didn’t have one, and he said, “Granddaughter, if you have to campaign at this point, you’re not doing your job.” He led a family of four children, five grandchildren, and six greatgrandchildren. After 82 years of a beloved life, we were able to grant him dignity at home, surrounded by loved ones. For the funeral, the cars outside Boardman Cemetery were lined up to Supply Road. When I visit his plot, I marvel at the massive space he left behind. We still hear of kindnesses we didn’t know about … nor would he have wanted that spotlight. I sat beside him while he pondered his cancer diagnosis, and in those same hours, he shared a piece of chocolate and directed my attention to the pink and blue sky. “Look over your shoulder,” he said, watching a thunderhead. “Look at that anvil. 120-mile-an-hour winds up there. Now that is a beautiful thing.” He wanted to teach us children values, as he believed we were the future. Thanks to him, I am reminded that it’s our ability to serve that makes us powerful.

Toni works in community health care for Northern Michigan. She enjoys spending time with her family and writing.

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We Are Proud To Power Rural Mid-Michigan Farms.

Thank you, farmers! While you are working from sunup till sundown and beyond to keep us all fed this harvest season, please stay mindful of the electric lines around you and stay safe. We wish you a prosperous harvest!

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