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Rural Success Stories:

ion SmartScooter

ion SmartScooter

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.


Industrial Skins

by Scott RagerIndustrial Skins

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.  


Sehnert's Bakery

Sehnert's Bakery

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.


VK Electronics

VK Electronics

VK Electroics fast forwards from movie rentals to thriving electronics store
by Cody Gerlach

Writer Cody Gerlach takes us to McCook to meet the Taylor family, who have transformed a small movie rental store into a multi-faceted business that meets the changing needs of its community. VK Electronics Home and Mobile first opened its doors as a video rental store in 1983, but owner Linda Taylor said if she could have seen back then what the business would become, she probably wouldn't have recognized it.

VK Electronics now sells furniture, televisions and home entertainment equipment, installs security systems and is an authorized dealer for DirecTV, Dish Network and HughesNet. The latest expansion has led the store into the grilling industry, dealing in top-of-the-line gas grills and smokers and even offering cooking classes on grilling and smoking every other month.

It's risky business starting something new, but the Taylors realize that to remain healthy and thriving in their community, they have to take risks. That's what makes them a Rural Success Story and we can't wait to share their story with you.


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Articles & Essays:

Me Again

Me Again.

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

County Fair Memories (in pictures)

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

Central Nebraska Public Power & Irrigation District

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.


Plum Good

by Geraldine KilgorePlum Good

Nebraska Rural Living reader Geraldine Kilgore now lives in Newburg, Ind., but she remembers well the days of her childhood, growing up on a farm 15 miles southeast of Lynch, Neb. Back then, a pencil box birthday present filled her with delight.

But what she remembers most from that time was the meandering way she and her brother and sister made the two-mile walk to their country school, ducking under barb wire fences and startling pheasants along the way. The best part of that walk was a stop at the plum patch on the way home.

Geraldine takes us back to that plum patch where they spent many contented hours popping plums in their mouths, chores forgotten for the moment. Lie in the grass and watch the clouds drift by with Geraldine in this month’s essay. If you have a special Nebraska memory to share, send it to us at Check out our Writer Guidelines for more information.


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Rural Foodies:

Stones Thoreau

Stones Thoreau

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

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

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.


4th Avenue Coffee

4th Avenue Coffee

Connecting community through coffee

Since 4th Avenue Coffee opened in Holdrege last September, Rural Foodie writer Scott Rager has found himself returning again and again to this coffee shop. It's a place where mud-crusted farm trucks rub shoulders with shiny SUVs.

For Rager, 4th Avenue Coffee reminds him of the days in his childhood when families would gather in downtown Holdrege on Thursday nights, not just to shop, but to socialize. After Brian and Elisha Steinbach moved to Holdrege a few years ago, Brian had a vision of creating a place where people could meet and connect. "Sometimes it takes an outsider to realize what we are missing in our own community," Scott writes.

Since its opening, 4th Avenue Coffee has earned a solid customer base thanks to its amazing offerings, stellar customer service and consistency, Scott writes. The Steinbach's dedication to quality ingredients and Elisha's superb baking creates a wonderful food backdrop where good conversation flows as easily as the coffee.


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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:


Axtell, Nebraska

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.



Alma, Nebraska

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, Nebraska

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...

Curtis, Maywood

Curtis, Maywood

Curtis, Maywood are beautiful spots to live the Nebraska good life

Nestled in the beautiful Medicine Creek Valley, Curtis and Maywood are roughly equidistant between McCook, Lexington and North Platte. Separated by only seven miles, both communities proudly proclaim excellent school systems and today, as it has been for millennia, the primary business in Frontier County is farming and ranching. Archaeological evidence suggests the population of the valley is roughly the same now as when it was occupied by Native Americans 1300 years ago.

Today, Medicine Creek Valley is home to the progressive Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture, a new community center, an abundance of community spirit and an indomitable drive to thrive.more...

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Also Featured This Month

Holen Horse ’n Home Stay aims to preserve a bit of Nebraska’s past
Like rural homes throughout Middle America, the Brenstrom Farm in Phelps County, Neb., was fading into obscurity. Untended and unoccupied, the one-time country showplace was in need of paint, roof repairs and — most of all — a reason for being.

Fall's Kaleidoscope
People dream of traveling the roads of the eastern United States in fall, gazing at the astounding colors offered there. But if you have lived in Nebraska during autumn, you know that the foliage in these parts rivals anything back East.

Richard Barnes runs the Town Talk Restaurant his way…and that’s not bad
The colorful neon of the Town Talk Restaurant’s sign casts a glow on the street as we walk inside, wondering if we’ll have to wait for a table. We do. The Town Talk on this Friday night is jumping.

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