Neighbors to the World
Rural Success Stories:
Central American Foods
Nebraska opportunities draw Honduran entrepreneurs
by Scott Rager
“The road to success for business partners and brothers Marlon and Carlos Reyes is rooted in their native country of Honduras but stretches all the way to rural Nebraska,” writes Scott Rager. When delays in U.S. Customs were causing their shipments of artisanal cheese to spoil, they started looking for a place to produce their cheeses in the United States. They found that home in Nebraska.
“They selected rural Nebraska, Columbus in particular, not only for the quality of life but also because of the opportunities that are extended to small business owners,” Rager said. The Reyes turned their business plan and family cheese recipes into a thriving business in a short amount of time.
The future looks bright for Reyes’ Central American Foods, with distributors in five different states and a waiting list of companies wanting to work with the company. Read their inspiring story in this month’s Rural Success Story.
Add another invention to Nebraskaís storied list
Nebraska boasts a long list of inventors who have shaped United States history for decades. And Robert McCormick is the latest to throw his hat into the ring with the ion SmartScooter.
When McCormick came up with his idea, he knew he needed to get his idea in front of consumers. Using today’s newest business models, McCormick and his design team generated interest, demand and funding through social media and a successful Kickstarter campaign.
McCormick shows that with today’s tools, anything is possible in small town Nebraska. Distance from cities is no obstacle, even when designing a product to alleviate urban movement issues. All you need is an idea and the patience and perseverance to see that idea from concept to creation. May his journey inspire you in this month’s Rural Success Story.
Restaurant owner Shawn Engberg dreaded the arduous task of cleaning grease and grime from the ceiling tiles of his Kearney restaurant. One day he splashed chemicals in his eye during the process, which got him thinking about how he could eliminate the dirty job.
From that fortuitous splash, an idea was born. Inspired by his mother’s spring cleaning ritual of lining her shelves with self-adhesive contact paper, Shawn developed a product that works basically the same way on ceiling tiles.
As writer Scott Rager learned, Shawn has now expanded that idea into a product that is sold commercially and manufactured in a facility in Cozad. Shawn’s idea won a 2014 Kitchen Innovations Award from the National Restaurant Association. Read more about how Shawn’s entrepreneurial idea is bringing recognition and jobs to central Nebraska in our Rural Success story.
Pizza production a thing of beauty
When writer Scott Rager walked through the doors of Sehnert’s Bakery in McCook, he found himself in the midst of a culinary ballet. “Under the buzz and glow of florescent lighting, a cast of artisan bakers moved in a rhythm that seemed to be professionally choreographed,” he writes.
Sehnert’s Bakery creates many kinds of delectable pastries and breads, but it was the pizza crusts Scott was searching for. The wholesale business providing fresh pizza crusts to local restaurants has become the heart of Sehnert’s Bakery.Scott explores how Sehnert’s expanded into pizza production in our Rural Success story. Then stick around as Scott spotlights those pizza crusts in a rustic picnic fit for Martha Stewart in our Rural Foodie find.
Articles & Essays:
CNPPID invites birds “rest your wings!”
In Betty Sayers’ essay this month, she explores how Central Nebraska Public Power has turned conservation into one of its central missions. Central is providing protection for piping plovers and least terns along the shores of its facilities, as well as perch and roost trees for bald eagles.
Central’s relicensing process included making conservation a priority. That is now happening through the Platte River Recovery Program, which is being praised as one of the most successful habitat recovery programs in the United States. And the relicensing process is succeeding because federal, state and public entities are collaborating instead of fighting.
We invite you to join the birds in Nebraska to explore the impressive irrigation, recreation and conservation project in this month’s essay. Then visit the campgrounds and waterways we talk about to see for yourself the beauty that Central is helping to preserve.
Nebraska through an outsider's lens
Writer Alexandrea Donohue has had to overcome her own prejudices towards writing. But now she realizes that she has something to say and wants to share her outsider’s perspective on Nebraska. She seeks to observe and highlight those things that are uniquely Nebraskan.
This month, she is focusing on two things she has come to love about Nebraskans: their priorities of hard work and family. She contrasts the Nebraska view of these two ideals with the wider cultural landscape. “Nebraska truly is a world in its own, a separate culture hidden in the dead center of the United States,” she writes.
As you read Alexandrea’s essay in this month’s issue, think about your own feelings towards writing. If you are inclined to put pen to paper, we want to hear what you have to say. Check out our Writer’s Guidelines. We would love to see your essay and view of all things rural and Nebraskan on our site.
County Fairs Photo Essay
Flashback to the fair
We asked our readers to give us a glimpse of county fairs from their perspective. What we’ve found is that for many of you, fair means 4-H, youngsters working hard throughout the year, and especially during the summer, to put their best on display during the fair. Whatever the color of ribbon they bring home, lessons were learned and challenges were met and overcome.
Fair also means family. Families gather to help with projects or to watch the hard work of others. And after that hard work is done, there are the rides. Whether you enjoy riding the rides, or just watching the rides, there’s always fun to be had along the midway.
Browse our pictures. Then ask yourself, “What’s your favorite part of the fair?”
Central Nebraska Public Power & Irrigation District - Part Four
Fun on Nebraska Waters
by Betty Sayers
Here in Nebraska we know that towns empty out on the summer weekends as people head to their nearest lake, pond or stream for some outdoor fun. It’s often listed as one of the top items people are looking for when they choose where to live in Nebraska.
Writer Betty Sayers finds that without Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District’s irrigation and hydro power project in 1935, people in Nebraska might have missed out on many of the recreational water activities they enjoy today.
Central’s Supply Canal forms 26 small lakes that offer recreation and fun for residents and tourist in every season. Come along as we visit those lakes through pictures in this month’s essay.
A grand restaurant tradition in Columbus
Columbus’ historic downtown district is home to a charming restaurant and pub that features architectural details, a lush garden view and locally sourced produce and food sources. Traditions Inn drew the Rural Foodies to Columbus recently and it was a feast for the eyes, soul and stomach.
The setting and food melded together perfectly. “This is a place where memories are made, whether you are having lunch or celebrating a wedding reception,” Scott Rager writes. “People come for the food and end up returning for the memories.”
We think you will start planning your own trip to Traditions Inn in Columbus after reading this month’s Rural Foodie find.
Return trip reveals bustling business
Harold Stone of Davenport has very little down time. This entrepreneur wears many different hats: farmer, retailer, restaurateur and storyteller. When Rural Foodies returned to his brick and mortar South Maple Street, they were delighted to find canning season in full swing.
“A year ago, Stone seemed to be the only one taking advantage of his kitchen,” writes Scott Rager. “Now it is regularly booked by locals who churn out homemade pizzas, preserves and provisions.” And Stone also encourages musicians to stop in through Concerts in Your Home.
“If his intentions were to have a storefront that served as a gathering place, his mission was successful,” writes Rager. The Foodies sample mustard with roots deep in southeastern Nebraska, as well as Stone’s homemade crackers, apple sauce, tomato relish and more in a tasting to tempt every taste bud. Open your senses to true inspiration in this month’s Rural Foodie find.
Farmers' Market Produce
Veggies call my name
by Betty Sayers
In this month’s Rural Foodie adventure, Betty Sayers steps outside to visit Jean and Garreld Fecht, whose veggies grace the aisles of many of central Nebraska local farmers’ markets. After visiting with the Fechts at Holdrege’s farmers’ market, Betty visits their garden acres in and around Axtell to get to the root of the story.
The Fechts raise hundreds of pound of produce on four acres of land and love to share their bounty with others. “I can’t remember when we didn’t garden,” Garreld told Betty.
Explore the colors, tastes and smells of the homegrown goodness of beans, squash, cucumbers, greens, onions, tomatoes and potatoes in this month’s Rural Foodies feature. Then head to your own local farmers’ market to make the most of this season’s fabulous food finds. Maybe you can even try out Jean’s recipe for collard greens. You won’t be disappointed.
Perfect Pizza Picnic
by Scott Rager
Next to a still lake the color of moss, with mighty cottonwood trees swaying in rhythm, our Rural Foodies fired up the grill to celebrate a Rural Foodie find, Sehnert’s Bakery pizza crusts. “I set out to highlight the flavors of summer and the quality of a locally made product,” writes Scott Rager.
He topped three pizzas with local ingredients from a nearby farmer’s market and found the pairings to be pleasing to the eye and the taste buds. “If the first pizza was any indication of the rest of our meal, we were in for a treat,” he writes.
This picnic will have you longing to set up your own impromptu outdoor gathering. If you hadn’t thought of pizza as picnic food, this story will change your mind. Find a setting that will sharpen all the flavors and you’ll have a spread worthy of the pages of any magazine. Pull up a seat at Scott’s picnic table and grab a slice in our Rural Foodie pizza picnic.
Keep in Touch
Our newsletter comes out once a month, but today’s social media also allows us to keep in touch between issues. Take a look at our Facebook page. Follow us on Twitter. Find us @NebRuralLiving. And visit our blog. We love hearing from our readers, because (and we’re not biased) we have the best readers around!
Dynamic Towns & Cities:
Benkelman is a town with a view...and a view of the future
About as far south and west as you can go and still be in Nebraska, Benkelman is a town with a view, built on spectacular terrain featuring lookouts and ledges. Only three hours from Denver International Airport, you’ll find the hectic, high-priced urban lifestyle evolves into wholesome, affordable, rural living in Benkelman and Dundy County.
The lifestyle of the almost-mythical American rancher and cowboy come alive in Benkelman. There are more veterinarians than doctors in Dundy County, and no wonder: an estimated 70,000 cattle range on land that is all privately owned, with not a single commercial feedlot.
Great school is only one jewel in Axtell's crown
Surveys tell us that one concern of people considering the change to a rural lifestyle is the quality of rural schools. They shouldn’t worry. A recent Department of Education study found that nationwide, rural children did better than their urban counterparts in science and math, and that rural educators were more likely to report being satisfied with their working conditions. Read more about why a great school is just one jewel in Axtell’s crown.
No one remains a stranger for long in Alma
If you want to get to know the town of Alma and learn about its people, start with a visit to any one of the venues where residents gather for morning coffee and a daily update on local happenings. Chances are you will meet enough friendly folks during your first visit that you’ll spend the rest of the day bumping into your new friends, ready with a now-familiar smile and another round of introductions.more...
Cambridge opens its arms, offering high-tech capabilities and new housing development
Cambridge is the kind of town where canopies of maple, ash and oak trees shade sturdy wood-sided homes and walkers, bicyclists and runners enjoy wide sidewalks, a park with a creek, and miles of well-kept trails. It’s a town known for a friendly, front-porch culture and a healthy lifestyle, opportunities to prosper in business, quality schools, and a strong sense of community.
At the same time, some of the latest and best internet technology available between Omaha and Denver fuels business start-ups, telecommuters and entrepreneurs. PinPoint Communications, headquartered in Cambridge, made fiber optic cable available to every home and business in Cambridge and brought wireless access to the public park and campgrounds.
Cambridge’s main street is a portrait of productivity in small town America. Every store front is currently leased and open for business. more...
Also Featured This Month
Franklin’s Down Home Café offers a real “home-cooked” restaurant experience
Alicia and Michael Williams’ concept of offering a real “home-cooked” restaurant experience hasn’t made them rich yet, but it’s making them plenty of loyal fans.
The Balcony House offers a small town oasis in time
Sometimes you need to just get away together. You aren’t looking for glitter and flash, you’re looking for snuggle and cuddle; you don’t need a floor show, you’ve got each other and a book. What you’re really seeking is an oasis in time; a place to just “be” for awhile and let your batteries recharge.
Only in Curtis...
When Mitzi Michelsen and her husband and eight children moved to rural Nebraska, not everyone was thrilled...