Spet. 19 Ontonagon

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September/October 2019


COUNTRY LINES Ontonagon County Rural Electrification Association


Superior Honey Farm’s Sweet Success

The Life And Times Of Bill Isetts


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In This Issue September 2019 || Vol. 39, No. 8

Michigan’s Electric Cooperatives






Your photo could be featured here.


Executive Editor: Casey Clark Editor: Christine Dorr Copy Editor: Heidi Spencer

Follow Us On Instagram!

Design and Production: Karreen Bird Recipe Editor: Christin McKamey Publisher: Michigan Electric Cooperative Association

Come share in the splendor of rural Michigan with us

michigancountrylines One day the sky decided it wanted to come down to earth and spend a day on the beach. #lakemichigan #whoa Really cool capture by @janomurf

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.

The 1,004-foot cargo ship, the Edwin H. Gott, is home to both long-time crew and those training as mariners. The massive freighter’s bow is pictured on the cover against the backdrop of the mighty Mackinac Bridge. Learn more about life as a cadet at the Great Lakes Maritime Academy on page 14.

POSTMASTER: SEND ALL UAA TO CFS. Association officers are Robert Kran, Great Lakes Energy, chairman; Tony Anderson, Cherryland Electric Cooperative, vice chairman; and Eric Baker, Wolverine Power Cooperative, secretarytreasurer. Craig Borr is president and CEO. CONTACT US/LETTERS TO EDITOR: Michigan Country Lines 201 Townsend St., Suite 900 Lansing, MI 48933 248-534-7358 editor@countrylines.com countrylines.com


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.

6 THE DRIVING FORCE: PLUG INTO ELECTRIC VEHICLES On The Road: Norm Rosema Takes Electricity For A Spin Emily Haines Lloyd

10 MI CO-OP KITCHEN Kick-off Tailgating Season With These Winning Recipes


ATTENTION READERS: The publisher of Michigan Country Lines magazine is working with NRECA Market Research Service, a reputable public opinion research company, to conduct a confidential survey for Michigan’s electric cooperatives. If NRECA contacts you by phone or email, please be assured they are not selling anything. The short, confidential survey will help your co-op serve you better. Thank you for your time and help with this survey.

Christin McKamey & Our Readers

Enter Our Recipe Contest And Win A $50 Bill Credit!

Best of Michigan

14 FEATURE Life On A Freighter

UP NEXT! BAKERIES: We’re on a sweet journey to find the best bakeries in the state! Share your favorites. We will publish this member–recommended list in our November/December issue. Submit your favorites at countrylines.com under the MI Co-op Community tab by September 20.

Taylor Brown, courtesy of Traverse Magazine

18 MI CO-OP COMMUNITY Best Of Michigan Crafts Beers

Pour yourself a cold one from this member-recommended list. Guess Our New Mystery Photo And Win A $50 Bill Credit!






500 J.K. Paul Street Ontonagon, MI 49953

906-884-4151 800-562-7128 ontonagon.coop After hours: 866-639-6098 OFFICERS & DIRECTORS Calvin Koski, President Aura District 906-524-6988 cgkoski@up.net

George Rajala, Vice-President Chassell/Keweenaw Bay District 906-370-0416 rajgeo50@yahoo.com James Moore, Director, Secretary/Treasurer Boston District 906-482-0465 district6.keweenaw@gmail.com Wayne Heikkinen, Director Pelkie/Herman/Aura District 906-353-6496 mustipuppy@gmail.com Paul Koski, Director Ewen/Trout Creek/Lake Mine District 906-988-2593 pkoski@jamadots.com Frances Wiideman, Director Green/Firesteel/Toivola District 906-288-3203 fwiideman@alphacomm.net William Hodges, Director Lake Linden District 906-934-3743 mistermich52@gmail.com


Debbie Miles, General Manager Fay Hauswirth, Billing Clerk Mark Urbis, Line Superintendent


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. Join us on Facebook. facebook.com/OntonagonCountyREA


Back To School Debbie Miles, General Manager

Electric co-ops are continually learning to improve service for members. It’s a new school year and kids of all ages are getting ready for a fresh year of learning! From kindergarten through college, students attend school to gain knowledge about a broad variety of subjects and learn new skills that will prepare them for the future. In a similar vein, Ontonagon REA is continually learning in order to advance technology that improves electric service, reliability, safety and, in turn, enhances quality of life for the members we serve in our local communities. Ontonagon REA keeps abreast of industry trends because the energy sector is rapidly changing. Innovations in technology and energy types are fueling demand for more options. On the consumer front, people are looking for more ways to manage their energy use with smart technologies. Consumers expect more convenient payment methods—whether through automatic bill pay, pre-pay, online or in person. We’re working to help sift through the options for our members in ways that benefit the greater community. At the same time, we never lose sight of the top priority— providing safe, reliable and affordable electricity.

Technology improves operational efficiency. For example, automated meter reading (AMR) is the technology of automatically collecting energy consumption data and transferring it from the electric meter to the co-op. Because this information can be collected remotely, it enhances our system’s efficiency, helps control costs and improves work processes. Similar to AMR, there is another technology called advanced metering infrastructure (AMI). This is an integrated system of smart meters, communications networks, and data management systems that enables two-way communication between utilities and consumers. In the event of an outage, AMI helps to distinguish between events that impact a single home or multiple outages. This is critical because resolving either issue is a very different process. The two-way communication is integral to AMI because it provides a means to verify that power has been restored after an outage. However, one of the biggest benefits from improved technologies, especially for outages caused by extreme weather, is pinpointing the outage location, which helps to reduce risk for crews out on the road during severe weather events. Ontonagon REA also analyzes AMI data for anomalies including faults, damaged meters or energy theft. Detecting these problems early helps our cooperative save money and improve reliability for the whole community.

Energy for the future. Consumer interest in green energy sources and renewables is at an all-time high. Nationally, the increasing use of solar energy is paving the way for new methods of generating and using electricity. In our region, community solar programs allow co-op members to share in a remote solar array that generates electricity from the sun. Whether it’s examining green energy options or exploring how emerging technologies can better serve our members, for Ontonagon REA, “school year” is never over. We will continue to learn from our members about their priorities for the future, and we will continue to study and research the issues so that we can better serve you, now and in the future.

Public Act 295: The Clean Renewable and Efficient Energy Act 2018 Annual Energy Waste Reduction Report Ontonagon County REA MPSC Case Number U-18277 During 2018, Ontonagon County REA administered its Energy Waste Reduction (EWR) plan through the Michigan Electric Cooperative Collaborative in order to comply with PA-295. Previously, Ontonagon, through the Collaborative, submitted its EWR plan with the MPSC. This EWR plan was approved by the MPSC. The Collaborative implemented the EWR Plan during 2018. Overall, Ontonagon achieved a goal at 146% of savings. The full report can be obtained at your cooperative’s headquarters.

Notice to Members of Ontonagon County REA Case No. U-16595 2018 Renewable Energy Plan Annual Report Summary 2008 PA 295, as amended, requires all Michigan electric utilities to get 10% of their power supply from renewable sources during 2018. Under this requirement, Ontonagon County REA submits an annual report to the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) regarding its Renewable Energy Plan. In 2018, Ontonagon acquired a total of 2,374 renewable energy credits and 166 incentive credits. All credit transfers were directed through Ontonagon’s wholesale power supplier. Ontonagon will continue to generate renewable energy and bank unused renewable energy credits for future use and compliance with statutory renewable portfolio standard requirements on behalf of all of its members. A full copy of the cooperative’s Renewable Energy Plan annual report that was filed with the MPSC is available by request at the cooperative’s offices.


co-op entrepreneurs SUBMIT A NOMINATION TODAY!

Michigan Country Lines is on the hunt for entrepreneurial movers and shakers to showcase in our March 2020 magazine. We know co-op members are awesome and there is no shortage of

pioneers, innovators and leaders in our service territory. Featured entrepreneurial endeavors can be small start-ups, large operations or anything in between. If you know a friend, neighbor or coworker we should consider, nominate them by December 31 at countrylines.com. Self-nominations are accepted.



The Driving Force: Plug Into Electric Vehicles

Norm Rosema and Roger Bradshaw worked together to plan Norm’s EV road trip from Michigan to California.

On the Road Norm Rosema Takes Electricity For A Spin By Emily Haines Lloyd

Norm and Donna Rosema loved taking drives together.

Not long after, a plan started piecing together.

Norm, now 82, lost his beloved wife of 57 years unexpectedly in February, 2018 in an automobile accident. The devastation of such a loss can be insurmountable, but it was perhaps that shared love of taking drives that helped Norm heal.

Friends in California had missed Donna’s memorial service, and Norm had never felt quite right about that. He began thinking of driving from his home in Fremont, Michigan, to where his friends lived in Southern California, over 2,000 miles away.

As in the case of most curative stories, family and friends can be found at the heart of each.

Planning cross-country road trips takes a certain amount of organization. Taking cross-country road trips in an electric car takes a tribe.

A friend of Norm’s, Roger Bradshaw, purchased a Chevy Bolt in 2018, replacing his previous electric car, a Chevy Volt purchased in 2012. Over the years, Roger and Norm frequently talked about electric vehicles, how they were evolving, and why Roger was hooked. “Eventually, I thought, ‘I say I care about the environment and want to reduce my carbon footprint,’” said Norm. “If that’s true, I’m either going to quit driving or do something about it.” In August 2018, Norm purchased a Chevy Bolt. 6 SEPTEMBER 2019

While dates and routes were being considered, Roger was a huge help, utilizing his experiences over the years with his electric vehicles and identifying useful resources to find charging stations along the way. Roger and Norm also took a small test run to Brighton, Michigan—about two and a half hours away. “Plug Share was a beneficial resource in finding charging stations along Norm’s planned route to California,” said Roger. “Norm did a great job of identifying dealerships that also offered charging capabilities.”

“Eventually, I thought, ‘I say I care about the environment and want to reduce my carbon footprint. If that’s true, I’m either going to quit driving or do something about it.’” —Norm Rosema

What Do EV Charging Levels Mean?

Norm set out on his trip the day after Easter in 2019, with maps, OnStar, and his friend Roger just a phone call away. Norm navigated the range anxiety (concern of running out of power without a charging station nearby) and even settled into traveling at a slightly slower speed to conserve energy. Having Roger available for quick online checks was another way that Norm felt he had his buddy in the passenger seat supporting him. Norm found dealerships very helpful and courteous—offering him their lounges and cups of coffee while his Bolt recharged. It wasn’t until a charge at Petrified Forest in the Painted Desert on his way to Flagstaff, Arizona, that Norm ran into his only challenge. After charging at a Level 2 station, with approximately 50 extra miles available on his charge, Norm experienced the effect of the altitude changes on the way to Flagstaff. Increased incline uses more power, and as Norm pulled into his reserved hotel that evening, he had very little energy left. The hotel had misinformed Norm about their charging capabilities, sending him elsewhere for a Level 2 station, which ended up being out of service. After a bit of a scavenger hunt, Norm pulled up to a final station and his car ran out of juice. He’d pulled up just far enough to plug in, but the car wouldn’t accept the charge. One tow truck later and Norm and his Bolt were at a local dealership. The serviceman on duty said they didn’t have a certified Bolt technician, but they decided to plug it into an older Volt charging station and try their luck. At first—nothing. But finally, a green flashing light indicated the car was receiving a charge. The serviceman offered to drop Norm at his hotel, as the man was heading out on a date with his wife. He then offered to swing by the dealership on his way home to check on the Bolt and give Norm an update. The following day, that same serviceman came in on his day off to meet Norm and make sure his Bolt was charged enough to make it on his next leg of the trip. “The people you meet along the way, I tell you…” said Norm. “I’ll always remember folks like that guy and Roger who made this trip a success.” Norm made it to his next stop to meet friends in Phoenix and finally to his destination in California. “There were a lot of emotions as I arrived in California—having that time to remember Donna and do some thinking and grieving,” said Norm. “There was also a total feeling of success and being so blessed. Being with friends just accentuated it all.”

Level 1—Home Charging: Level 1 charging cords are standard equipment on a new EV. Level 1 charging only requires a grounded (three-prong) 120V outlet and can add about 40 miles of range in an eight-hour overnight charge. Overnight Level 1 charging is suitable for low and medium range plug-in hybrids and all-electric battery electric vehicle drivers with low daily driving usage.

Level 2—Home and Public Charging: Level 2 charging typically requires a charging unit on a 240V circuit, like the circuit used to power a common electric clothes dryer. The charging rate depends on the vehicle’s acceptance rate and the maximum current available. With a typical 30 amp circuit, about 180 miles can be added during an eight-hour charge. Level 2 chargers are the most common public chargers, and you can find them at places like offices, grocery stores, and parking garages. Public Level 2 chargers have a standard EV connection plug that fits all current vehicles, except for Teslas, which require an adapter.

DC Fast Charging—Public Charging: DC fast charging is the fastest currently available recharging method. It can typically add 50 to 90 miles in 30 minutes, depending on the station’s power capacity and the make of EV. Courtesy of ucsusa.org



Energy Assistance For Income Qualified Residents


e know utility bills can easily pile up for folks with limited incomes. The Energy Optimization program is here to help! If your household meets the income eligibility guidelines, you could receive FREE energy-saving products and services through Energy Optimization’s Home Energy Baseload Program. Qualified residents can obtain assistance to improve the energy performance of their homes— which will help reduce electricity use and save money on utility bills.

Energy-saving Devices And Installation One of our trained, professional contractors can visit your home to leave behind or install a variety of energy efficiency devices. You will receive information on how to get the

most out of your new gadgets, as well as tips for making simple changes to save energy at home.

Free Items Available Through The Program Include: • • • • •

LED bulbs LED night lights Smart power strip Low-flow showerhead Faucet aerators

Refrigerator Evaluation And Replacement Is your refrigerator at least 10 years old? An Energy Optimization program representative can visit your home to evaluate your refrigerator. If it is determined to be highly inefficient, you could receive a new replacement at no cost.


Eligibility Requirements To qualify for the Home Energy Baseload Program, your household must meet the following income guidelines. Gross annual income is the combined total income of all household members, before taxes.

Family Size Gross Annual Income 1 $24,980 2 $33,820 3 $42,660 4 $51,500

Note: For families/households with more than 8 persons, add $8,640 for each additional person.

To find out if you qualify for Energy Optimization programs or to learn more, call 877-296-4319 or visit michigan-energy.org.


We know it can be difficult to keep up with energy costs. The Home Energy Baseload Program may provide income-eligible households with the following: ▪ In-home equipment evaluations ▪ Refrigerator replacements ▪ Energy-saving devices


MICHIGAN-ENERGY.ORG | 877.296.4319

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

5 $60,340 6 $69,180 7 $78,020 8 $86,860

Photo Contest 3


2 4


Sunrise/Sunset 1. A beautiful winter sunset captured while out walking the dog—Anne Schumer.

2. Looking toward Louis Point at Little Traverse on July 1, 2019, at 6:06 a.m.—Thomas Grimm


Submit A Photo & Win A Bill Credit!

Ontonagon REA members whose photos we print in Michigan Country Lines will be entered in a drawing. One lucky member will win a credit up to $200 on their December 2019 energy bill!

3. Copper Harbor sunset after dining at the Harbor Haus

Our upcoming topic and deadline:

4. Sunset over Sault Ste. Marie from the Sugar Island Ferry —Elsa Green

• Ugly Christmas Sweaters— due September 20 (November/December issue)

Keweenaw Bay—Bridgette Dosmann

To submit photos, and for details and instructions, go to http://bit.ly/countrylines

—Suzanne Hammerstrom

We look forward to seeing your best photos!

—Ronni Clohessy

5. These three amigos enjoyed watching the sunset over the 6. Enjoying the sunset while camping at McLain State Park

Enter to win a


energy bill credit!



Tailgating Favorites Kick-off your tailgating party with these winning recipes. Photos by Robert Bruce Photography Recipes Submitted By MCL Readers And Tested By Recipe Editor Christin McKamey

Winning Recipe!

Garlic Cheese Bombs Mindy Emerson, Great Lakes Energy

1 (16-ounce) can refrigerated buttermilk biscuits (non-flaky) 4 mozzarella cheese sticks (cut into 6 pieces) or 24 mini mozzarella balls 2 tablespoons salted butter, melted 1 large clove garlic, minced 3 tablespoons fresh parmesan, grated 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped (or 1½ teaspoons dry) ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning • kosher salt, to taste Preheat oven to 400 F. Lightly grease two mini-muffin tins (24 muffins total) or one large baking sheet with butter/non-stick spray. Take refrigerated biscuits and cut each one in thirds, then roll each piece out until it’s ¼–¹⁄ 8 inch thick. Place one mozzarella ball on the edge of your dough strip and roll dough over the cheese until it wraps over itself. Make sure to seal any openings at the seams with your fingers. Repeat with remaining dough bombs and transfer to greased muffin tins or baking sheet. 10 SEPTEMBER 2019

In a microwaveable bowl, combine butter with minced garlic and microwave until melted (30–45 seconds). In a large bowl, whisk together melted butter, garlic, parmesan, parsley, Italian seasoning, and salt, then dip cheese balls individually in the mixture, coat, and place them back in the muffin tins. Bake for 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven and serve immediately. Makes 24 cheese bombs. Note: I make these a day before and refrigerate the dough until I am ready to bake right before the tailgate. I place them in an aluminum pan and cover with foil to keep them warm. Enjoy!

Watch a video of this month’s winning recipe at micoopkitchen.com/videos

Rod’s Dog Sauce What’s more American than tailgating at a Detroit Tiger’s game while enjoying a Michigan-made Koegel’s hot dog? Well, I’ll tell you——putting my amazing dog sauce in the mix hits your tastebuds out of the park! Rod O’Connor, HomeWorks Tri-County 1 pound ground beef 3 garlic cloves, chopped 2 habanero peppers, chopped 1 medium white onion, chopped 1 tablespoon salt 1 tablespoon black pepper 3 tablespoons chili powder 1 teaspoon cumin

1 12-ounce can Budweiser 1 14.5-ounce can stewed tomatoes 1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce ½ cup rinsed dark red kidney beans

Brown beef with garlic, peppers, and onion. Drain fat. Stir in dry spices; salt, pepper, chili powder, and cumin. Add beer and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a medium-low. Mix in stewed tomatoes and tomato sauce. Stir in Worcestershire sauce. Simmer for 30 minutes, then add the beans. Simmer for another 30 minutes. Pack in cooler and reheat in a pot on the grill.

Fresh Poppers Kris Hazeres, Alger Delta

1 large (2-pound) bag sweet mini peppers 2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened 1 pound package bacon, cooked and chopped (or pre-cooked bacon) 2–3 jalapeños, finely diced 1½ cups finely shredded sharp cheddar or pepper jack cheese

Touchdown Cheeseball Katie Schneider, Midwest Energy 1½ cups pecans 2 (8-ounce) packages softened cream cheese 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese 1½ tablespoons mayo 1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce ½ teaspoon garlic powder 1 (2.25-ounce) jar dried beef 4 green onions

Pull cream cheese out to soften. Preheat oven to 350 F. Spread pecans on a baking tray and toast for 5–6 minutes. Let cool. Cream together the softened cream cheese, cheddar cheese, mayo, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, and garlic powder until light and fluffy. Chop dried beef and green onions; mix into cheese mixture. Spoon mixture into plastic wrap and form into football shape. Refrigerate for 2 hours. Chop the cooled pecans. Roll the chilled cheese ball in the toasted chopped pecans and serve with assorted crackers or veggies. It can be stored in fridge for 3–5 days or freeze before rolling in pecans.

Remove the cream cheese from the fridge and let it sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes. This will make it easier to mix with the other ingredients. Meanwhile, cook bacon until crispy (or use already cooked bacon). While the bacon is cooking, cut the mini peppers in half lengthwise and clean out seeds. You can also take this time to finely dice the jalapeños and shred the cheese. Once the bacon is done and cooled a bit, use a large knife to chop into small bits. In a medium to large bowl, use a spoon to mix together all of your ingredients except for the mini peppers. Use a small spoon or mini spatula to stuff the mini peppers with the mixture.

Christmas Cookies: due September 1

Comfort Food: due October 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.

Enter to win a


energy bill credit!

Go to micoopkitchen.com for more information and to register.



F Superior Honey Farm’s

Sweet Success By Yvonne Whitman


or Chassell beekeeper David Wiitanen, a love of insects was the start of his interest in the honey business. “As a kid, I always had an interest in bugs. I collected them and I made cases for butterflies,” he recalled. “I was always fascinated by bugs. But bees were one thing that really caught my interest because they are a super organism. What they can do is amazing.” Fast forward to 2003, he remembered, “When I saw an ad in the paper where someone was looking for a place to put their hives, I thought, “Right here!” And so, it began. By the fall of 2018, he had 176 of his own hives with each hive hosting 60–80,000 bees. His goal is to eventually have 200 hives. The hives are not all located at his farm. Because he is looking for a good mix of honey, he places his hives in 12 different nearby Copper Country yards including a strawberry farm, a raspberry and blueberry farm, and various apple orchards. He designated his honey as “wildflower” to cover the

broad spectrum of where his hives are located. Each year, his dedicated winged workers produce 3,000 to 4,000 pounds of honey which Wiitanen sells, along with beeswax products such as candles, at 25 local stores scattered throughout the Copper Country. He also sells packaged bees and queens to other larger honey producers. Wiitanen also does public presentations on bee keeping upon request. “Keeping information to myself doesn’t benefit anyone. If people have questions about beekeeping, or want

The problem of BEE DECLINE

Since the late 1990s, beekeepers around the world have observed the mysterious and sudden disappearance of bees, and report unusually high rates of decline in honeybee colonies. Bees are dying at a rapid rate. Forty four percent of bee colonies collapsed in the United States in 2016 and our food supply is at serious risk.

to get involved in beekeeping, I can probably answer some of those questions and give them a helping hand," he offered. He is not only passionate about his bees but about the current issues affecting bees worldwide. “I always use my presentations to educate the public on the present problems affecting bees,” he said. The tone of Wiitanen’s voice reveals his enthusiasm for the subject when he concluded, “I absolutely love what I am doing.” Sweet success indeed. Superior Honey Farm is located at 38719 US-41 in Chassell. You can contact David Wiitanen at Bigwheats1@hotmail.com or 906-281-3245.

Bees and other pollinating insects play an essential role in ecosystems. A third of the food that we eat depends on these insects. And bees make more than honey——they are key to food production because they pollinate crops. Bumblebees, other wild bees, and insects like butterflies, wasps, and flies all provide these valuable pollination services. Bee-killing pesticides pose the most direct risk to pollinators. The main reasons for global bee-decline are linked to industrial agriculture, parasites/pathogens and climate change.

What can we do? Support the change towards ecological farming and help to protect bees, wild bees and other pollinators: buy regional and organic food, avoid pesticides in your garden, and plant bee-friendly organic flowers. It’s time to pay back the tiny, struggling pollinators that do so much for us.

Soft Honey Cookies 1/4 2 1 3 3/4

cup sugar tablespoons canola oil large egg tablespoons honey teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour 1/4 teaspoon baking powder 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/8 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 F. In a small bowl, beat sugar and oil until blended. Beat in egg; beat in honey and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt; gradually add to sugar mixture and mix well (dough will be stiff). Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Drop dough by tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto a greased baking sheet. Bake for 8–10 minutes or until bottoms are lightly browned. Cool for 1 minute before removing from pan to a wire rack. Store in an airtight container. MICHIGAN COUNTRY LINES 13





SAIL THE STRAITS. Take in gorgeous views like this one. MyNorth.com/summercruises



The Life And Times Of

BILL ISETTS By Lois Corcoran


met this instantly likable guy, Bill Isetts, through a mutual friend. Bill’s life story reads much like a Hemingway novel, with one adventure after another. Dozens of friends encouraged him to record his memoirs, and that’s when I entered the picture. Bill enlisted in the Navy at the tender age of 17. “I didn’t know what kind of duty I was going to have,” Bill told me when I sat down with him to pen his stories. “They put us in a room where there was a paper on each desk and told us, ‘Do not look at the paper.’ An officer came in and said we could turn it over. It was our Last Will and Testament. That’s when I found out I was going to Vietnam.” Bill saw untold horrors in that country. A friend of his was ordered to interrogate pairs of Vietnamese up in a helicopter. If one refused to talk, the surviving cohort told them all they needed to know. “We had to,” Bill explained. “They were the enemy.” “Snakes [from overhanging trees] would drop down on our boats all the time,” he recalled. “I hate snakes.”


During our time together, Bill showed me a photo album made for him by a veteran friend. “This is a grenade going off,” he said. “One guy had a camera, and one guy was throwing the grenade. This was an actual battle. They could’ve gotten killed.” One picture was of a young Bill and his fellow soldiers during a break in the action. “Wow! You were a hunk!” I said, and Bill laughed. “There were lots of hunks,” he replied. But the moment of levity faded when he told me that most of those young men lost their lives. “In Vietnam I couldn’t believe God would let war happen,” Bill said. “I came back an agnostic.” Life was difficult back home. His then-wife was in denial about him having PTSD, so he turned to booze to try and forget. That only complicated matters and eventually things reached an ugly head. “I went up to camp and attempted suicide. I put the gun in my mouth,” Bill recalled, his voice breaking. “But the radio had been left on, and I heard a James Dobson program. I was listening to GIs from similar situations. I [jotted down] the information and wrote to them. They all wrote back.” One of them, Roger Helle, was in Ohio and “we made arrangements to meet. I told him about my suicide attempt and he cried. He told me that the four GIs weren’t supposed to be on the radio program that day, but someone canceled and Dobson got [them] on the show.”

Around that time, Bill attended a Michigan Bell company picnic, and “some ladies wanted me to take care of the kids. I said no. Then one of them said, ‘We’ll dress you as a clown and no one will know you.’” “So, they dressed me as the ugliest clown in the world! But I really enjoyed playing with the kids. This was at Fuller Park…I was still in my clown outfit and stood at the edge of the baseball field. This little girl walked up to me with a cupcake in her hand. She handed me the cupcake and said, ‘I love you.’” This act of love came during a time when Bill and his then-wife weren’t speaking. That’s when “I told the ladies, ‘I’ll be your clown because as long as I’m a clown, I’ll have someone who loves me. I changed my costume to multi-colored polka dots and multi-colored hair. I taught myself balloon art and tricks to do at birthday parties. I was “Billy the Clown” for 54 years, but I didn’t [let anyone know].”

director of one of the vet centers in the state. One of the ladies on the board [told her], ‘You oughta go out [with Bill].’ I made Linda up [into a clown] and we did a clowning gig. We married a year later in August of 1994.” “I was scheduled to go back [to Vietnam that] winter with a group called Vets with a Mission. I almost chickened out because I was afraid the war was still going on. In my mind the war WAS going on. In order to go, I had to raise the money for the trip. A few days before [the trip], I was still short $164. My wife [and I] went out the door—she was taking me to the airport. There was one letter in the mailbox. It was a donation from somebody—exactly $164. It was another one of those miracles in my life.”

‘I’ll be your clown because as long as I’m a clown, I’ll have someone who loves me.” —Bill Isetts

After leaving Michigan Bell, “I was trying to get my life together, but my ex-wife didn’t want any more to do with me. I bought a chainsaw and went to work cutting wood in the U.P. with a guy that I knew. I lived in the woods in a hooch (like a trailer) on wheels. A fellow challenged me to read the Bible and prove it wrong. ‘If you can prove the Bible wrong, I’ll follow you,’ he said. ‘If you can’t, you’ll follow the Bible.’ So that was my goal. I set the saw down and went back to my hooch and read some verses in the Bible. That day I became a Christian.” That was also the time when Bill gave up his whiskey habit. “I wanted to be who I was supposed to be,” he said. Unfortunately, tragedy struck not long after. “While working in the woods, I got hit in the head by a tree up in Big Bay. I was actually considered dead. All nerves in my spine were severed. I was totally paralyzed for nine months and in a coma for eight days. People would come and visit me. I remembered who they were but couldn’t acknowledge them.”

The trip was a tremendous learning experience for Bill and, some might say, brought about healing from his initial Vietnam War experience. “At first it was frightening and then I started enjoying it. I found out that the people loved us and they didn’t want the war any more than we did. It was the government. The soldiers didn’t cause the problems. It was the politicians.”

Bill ended up going to Vietnam nine times, bringing joy to the people through clowning. “One time I was in the [Vietnamese] jungle at an orphanage. I ended up making 700 balloon hats in one afternoon…My wife was a clown also and we worked as missionaries all over the world,” said Bill. But there his story ends for now. I still hope to hear about the colorful adventures they shared before she passed away. Unfortunately, Bill suffered a stroke last year and spent some time at the VA Hospital. He is now recovering at home. He welcomes your prayers and cards. Cards can be sent to him at William Isetts, 2425 Ludington St. #205, Escanaba, MI 49829. And, God willing, we’ll finish those memoirs of his.

In time Bill recovered but, sadly, his marriage did not. Finding joy in his faith and physical recovery, Bill continued his alter ego as Billy the Clown. “I clowned in Lithuania, Russia, Poland, Mexico, Canada—every country in South America—and lots of places in the states. Bill met Linda, the love of his life, when she was serving as the treasurer on the board of Vets, Inc. “I was the


Guess this photo and enter to win a


energy bill credit!

5 1 2 7

Where In Michigan Is This? Identify the correct location of the photo above by September 20 and be entered into a drawing to win a $50 electric bill credit. Enter your guess at countrylines.com or send by mail to: Country Lines Mystery Photo, 201 Townsend St., Suite 900, Lansing, MI 48933. Include the name on your account, address, phone number and the name of your co-op. Our Mystery Photo Contest winner from the July/August issue is Lena Clor, a Thumb Electric Cooperative member, who correctly identified the photo as Lake Huron by the Edison Plant in Harbor Beach, Michigan. Winners are announced in the following issues of Country Lines: January, March, May, July/August, September and November/December.

Best Beer




Our beautiful state boasts some of the best beer in the nation. You can’t throw a rock in Michigan without hitting a great brewery these days. Discover a new favorite craft beer, recommended by MCL readers, at these breweries around the state. Cheers!


Summer Love—Mackinaw Brewing Company, Traverse City As a northern Michigan pioneer in micro-breweries, Mackinaw Brewing Company in Traverse City has been serving up craft beers for 22 years, and during that time, brewmaster Mike Dwyer has been creating some of the finest brews in all of Michigan. I like Mike because he does a great job at pleasing beer connoisseurs with his Dark Stouts and Red Ales, as well as catering to novice drinkers, like me, with his American IPAs and Belgian Whites. My all-time favorites are his seasonal growlers of Summer Love with a hint of lemon and his Heritage Cherry Lager named in honor of the T.C. Cherry Festival Heritage Day Parade. Rumor has it he will be brewing up a fall seasonal craft named October Fest, which will be a nice multi German Amber Lager. Can’t wait… Allys Dreves, Cherryland


Lake Phantom—Ludington Bay Brewing, Ludington The best beer on the lakeshore of Lake Michigan is Lake Phantom by Ludington Bay Brewing. Mary Campbell, Great Lakes Energy


Two-Hearted—Bell’s Brewery, Kalamazoo The best brew is Two-Hearted by Bell’s Brewery in Kalamazoo. It’s also the #1 Craft Beer in the United States. If you haven’t tried it, you should. Jennifer Grosskurth, Midwest Energy & Communications


Prima Hoparina—BAD Brewing Company, Mason Go try Prima Hoparina, a double IPA, brewed and served at BAD Brewing Company in Mason. They have lots of awesome craft beer! Hilda Wittingen, Great Lakes Energy


Juicy New England Style IPA— Petoskey Brewing, Petoskey Juicy New England Style IPA from Petoskey Brewing is my favorite. It has mouthwatering citrus and tropical hop aromas. Leland Wolken, HomeWorks Tri-County


Experimental Ales—Greenbush Brewing Company, Sawyer Greenbush Brewing Company in Sawyer offers a large portfolio of house-brewed beer, including experimental Ales. Walter Maciaga, Midwest Energy & Communications.

July/August 2019 Photo by Heather Patterson



Walter Gets Buzzed—Pigeon Hill Brewing Company, Muskegon Pigeon Hill Brewing Company in Muskegon makes a tasty brew called Walter Gets Buzzed, a lighter beer with a hint of coffee taste. Linnea Miller, Great Lakes Energy

Best of Michigan UP NEXT! BAKERIES: We’re on a sweet journey to find the best bakeries in the state! Share your favorites. We will publish this member–recommended list in our November/December issue. Submit your favorites at countrylines.com under the MI Co-op Community tab by September 20.

Hybrid Geothermal

It Pays for Itself


Your financing cost and the cost to heat with Well-Connect is typically less than your current cost.

“Well-Connect is one of the best investments we’ve ever made. We are able to maintain our home at a warm and comfortable temperature during the cold months. Likewise, during the warmer months, the added benefit of the air conditioning keeps our home nice and cool. The best part is we are spending significantly less on our energy costs to have a more comfortable home."

- Aaron & Dawn Hamp, PIE&G Member “When I could no longer physically cut 20 cords of wood, I installed a Well-Connect. The system has met all claims and surprised me. If people are heating and cooling with propane, fuel oil, or wood and have their own well, they have a need and don't realize it. That need is to cut those heating & cooling costs by at least half (as well as emissions). As for cooling, it has cost us $9.00 to cool this month (July)!!”

- Jess Steed, Cherryland Electric Member

IT PAYS FOR ITSELF The cost to finance and heat with a Well-Connect is typically less than your current heating cost.

HOW DOES THE SYSTEM WORK? Well-Connect works in combination with your home’s current heating system. This hybrid approach allows almost any existing well to become a free, clean energy source for heating and cooling your home.

CALL FOR A FREE HOME VISIT 989-356-2113 wellconnectsaves.com

Ontonagon County Rural Electrification Association ontonagon.coop facebook.com/OntonagonCountyREA

Tips For A Safe Harvest Harvest season brings hard work and can be an exhausting, but rushing the job to save time can be extremely dangerous (even deadly!) when working near overhead power lines. We urge farm operators and workers to keep the following safety tips in mind:

Use care when operating large machinery near power lines. Â Inspect the height of equipment to determine clearance. Always keep equipment at least 10 feet away (in all directions) from power lines. Remember to lower extensions when moving loads. If a power line is sagging or looks to be dangerously low, please call us immediately.

Source: SafeElectricity.org

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