Neighbors to the World

Rural Success Stories:

Keystone Business Center

Keystone Business Center

Nurturing businesses, one tenant at a time
by Kristine Jacobson

Abandoned buildings don’t need to be a sign of decline and deterioration in rural Nebraska. Instead, they can serve as a springboard for the imagination. That’s what happened in downtown McCook where an old historic building has now become a thriving business center for 19 businesses.

The Keystone Business Center has given small business owners a place to start. A place to hang their sign and announce that they are open and ready for business. As writer Kristine Jacobson learned, the center has given a boost to the rural economy by catering to local entrepreneurs through a tiered rental contract.

“When your rent isn’t any more than your power bill, it makes a difference,” said florist Nancy Collins, who got a start in the Keystone Business Center. The center was opened in 2010 and has seen many businesses grow into larger spaces within the building, while others have outgrown the building and moved onto other locations, providing an even larger boost to the local economy. Join Jacobson as she learns the story behind the Keystone Business Center in this month’s Rural Success Story.

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Bridal Isle

Bridal Isle

Wedding day wistfulness at Bridal Isle in Loomis
by Michelle McCormick

The gorgeous gowns at the Bridal Isle in Loomis, Nebraska, caused writer Michelle McCormick to swoon. She was there to get an update on the store that’s made a name for itself in the bridal industry, but instead, she found herself falling into wedding day wistfulness.

McCormick stepped inside and thought she had been transported to an exclusive bridal boutique in Paris or New York. The consultants are attentive and no detail is overlooked at the Bridal Isle, which has been a part of Loomis since 1984.

As brides plan those June weddings, many will find their way to the Bridal Isle for a one-of-a-kind experience. Get carried away in the romance and whimsy of it in this month’s Rural Success Story.

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Beaver Buckets

Beaver Buckets

Buckets of success
by Kristine Jacobson

Just in time for the holidays and big Oscar-worthy films, we bring you a refresher story about a craftsman in Nebraska who has made a name for himself making and supplying historically accurate wooden items such as buckets and washboards for movies, museums and more. In fact, his custom black-powder kegs are debuting in the Leonardo DiCaprio film, “The Revenant,” to be released Christmas Day.

Jim and Marilyn Gaster live near McCook in a beautiful log home filled with recycled woods and other items. The Gasters focus on every small detail in their personal and professional lives. And when they were searching for a fulfilling retirement career, they turned to Jim’s woodworking hobby. With the help of their son, Jeremy, who helped them make a website, Jim’s hobby has kept him plenty busy in retirement.

Writer Kristine Jacobson caught up with the Gasters this fall to find out more about how those buckets have found their way to museums and countries across the globe. For the Gasters, rural Nebraska is the perfect location for their business, with customers just a click away, and serene views out their front door. Learn how they built a successful retirement career in this month’s Rural Success Story.

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U.S. Custom Harvesters - Tracy Zeorian

Red Road Herbs

From combine cab to board room, technology connects
by Jennifer Chick

As fall corn harvest winds down across much of the state, it’s a time to thank farmers and harvesters for all they do to feed the world. Tracy Zeorian is one of those custom harvesters. She has been harvesting fields for more than 40 years. It’s her passion.

But she wanted to do more for the industry she’s loved since she was 12. In 2004, she decided to step up and take a bigger role in the industry. She ran for a seat on the U.S. Custom Harvesters board of directors. As editor Jennifer Chick finds, that first step has led to more than a decade serving members of USCHI.

And since 2013, Zeorian has been executive director of the membership organization. Members are grain and forage custom harvesters from across the United States. They are a nomadic group, following the harvest each summer and fall from south to north. Zeorian manages it all from her home in Manley, Nebraska. When she goes on the road to harvest, the office comes with her, thanks to a strong cell phone signal. Take a trip around the field in November’s Rural Success Story.

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Articles & Essays:

Survey Request

Reaching out to our readers

Reaching out to our readers

Rural living is unique. It’s a way of life based on neighborly actions and communities working together toward a common goal. But fewer and fewer people understand rural living as they move to cities and urban areas where they are cut off from the wide open spaces and sweeping vistas that can inspire and renew. That’s why Nebraska Rural Living exists, to celebrate rural living, investigate its challenges, and share the success of those who live in towns with populations fewer than 10,000.

We know there are so many more great stories we aren’t sharing because we just don’t know about them. So we are hoping you can help. Please take a few minutes to let us know why you read Nebraska Rural Living. What brings you to our site? Share your ideas for how to make Nebraska Rural Living even more vibrant so that we can share what it is that makes rural living great.

Start the short survey here. And thank you for sharing this passion for rural living with us.

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Long-distance love

Long-distance love

Long-distance love
by Jennifer Chick

Families come in all shapes and sizes, and they are spread across the country and the globe. But no matter how far away family is, a simple phone call can bridge the gap. That’s what Jennifer Chick learns in this month’s essay.

When her dad’s number pops up on her phone, Jennifer knows exactly where her dad is. She can picture the scene vividly as her dad leans against his water truck, killing time until his tanks are full.

Tag along as she takes us to her family’s farm in northwest Kansas. Because as Jennifer Chick has found in this month’s essay, homesickness can be cured with just one phone call.

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Silent Night

Silent Night

Let the beauty of a rural winter Nebraska night sink in through Don Brockmeier’s photos. Why do we love rural living? Because of scenes and experiences like these. The stillness of a silent night, broken only by the gentle whisper of a breeze and the far-off cry of a coyote. This is what makes rural Nebraska something to return to again and again. Enjoy the serenity in this month’s essay.

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Give2Grow

Donations help communities thrive through give2GrowDonations help communities thrive through give2Grow
by Kristine Jacobson

Rural nonprofit organizations serve the poor and provide recreation and education opportunities. But, many of those organizations are led by volunteers and operate on shoestring marketing and fundraising budgets. When these groups needed a way to jumpstart giving, a local community foundation stepped in.

As writer Kristine Jacobson learned, the Phelps County Community Foundation, based in Holdrege, Nebraska, has found a way to help those nonprofits promote themselves and raise funds for operating budgets or special projects through a one-day giving event called give2Grow. Through just three annual days of giving, donors have given more than $1.8 million to Phelps County nonprofits.

The projects funded through give2Grow have helped everyone from children to needy families. Donors have found an easy way to combine their donations to make a big impact in a short amount of time. The 2015 event will be Nov. 19, and 60 non-profits hope to reap the harvest of seeds planted in give2Grow.

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Rural Foodies:

Bella Italia

Bella Italia

Bright ingredients beat winter blues at Bella Italia
by Betty Sayers

During the gray of January, writer and Rural Foodie adventurer Betty Sayers headed to Cozad where she knew a tasty pick-me-up was waiting. There she indulged in the rich and hearty Italian dishes served up four days a week at Bella Italia.

For Sayers, watching Chef Shadi Aboushady at work is its own form of entertainment. The precision and skill he brings to the kitchen is a delight to behold, so she was happy to pull up a seat and watch the master at work.

With a full menu of local favorites, Bella Italia is a fine dining experience that would be the perfect romantic Valentine’s Day treat. Add Bella Italia to your list of foodie finds and read more in this month’s Rural Foodie feature

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Taste of Texas

Taste of Texas

Bringing big, bold barbecue to Nebraska
by Roni Lewis

Good stories always start with something surprising, and no one was more surprised than James and Robbie Arp when their spur-of-the-moment idea to open a barbecue restaurant in Nebraska became reality. The couple was returning to their home in Texas from a trip to visit family in southwest Nebraska when James playfully threw out the idea of opening a barbecue restaurant there.

Soon after, fate intervened and they found themselves opening just such a restaurant in McCook, Nebraska. Now the Arps have two Taste of Texas restaurants in Nebraska. The second opened in Holdrege.

The big bold flavors of barbecue bring diners to the Taste of Texas, but down-home hospitality and a family atmosphere keep them coming back. Roni Lewis investigates the story behind the restaurant’s success and brings us a story of slow-smoked perfection in this month’s Rural Foodie feature.

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Coppermill Steakhouse

Coppermill Steakhouse

Taking dining to a new orbit in McCook

by Betty Sayers

Are you serious about steak? Are you on a quest for the richest, juiciest, meatiest flavor on the planet? Celebrate your golden moment in McCook, Nebraska, where you will meet chefs, ranchers, cattle feeders and beef connoisseurs. These specialists are serious about meat, and they keep current on genetics, grazing, feeding, handling herds, and the standards for raising, processing and aging quality beef.

That’s why this month the Rural Foodies are taking us down the road to McCook, where the Coppermill Steakhouse and Lounge is sure to impress. Meet chef and restaurant entrepreneur Adam Siegfried and learn his formula for success as a restaurateur.

The Coppermill has something for everyone on its varied menu. From Cousin Eddie’s Stuffed Mushrooms to Grandma Siegfried's Mocha Mud Pie, the meal is filled with surprises to satisfy every craving. The Coppermill was opened in 1982 and has been delighting diners for more than three decades. You won’t be disappointed and you may just find some new friends along the way. Learn more in this month’s Rural Foodie feature

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Gella's Diner and Lb. Brewing Company

Gella's Diner and Lb. Brewing Company

Brewing success south of the Nebraska border
by Roni Lewis

The Rural Foodies will follow a highway, dirt road or trail to the best food around, and this month, that road led them down into Kansas to Gella’s Diner and Lb. Brewing Company. Gella’s is finding success in the brewing industry and is also wowing diners with unique and flavorful fare.

Writer Roni Lewis couldn’t wait to find out the story behind Gella’s. What she found is a brew master who pays close attention to the details, and a chef with a passion for creating the best experience for his adventurous eaters. It’s the perfect pairing and is one of the reasons Gella’s was voted one of the top 20 restaurants in Kansas by Kansas Magazine readers.

As always, this month’s Rural Foodies feature will leave you hungry for more. If that’s the case, head to Hays, Kansas, and check out Gella’s to make your own decision. You won’t be disappointed.

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Spend 36 hours exploring rural Nebraska


Rural Nebraska has so much to offer that we want to take our readers past the one story/one business model to encompass all that can be seen if you spend an entire weekend exploring this neck of the woods. In this 36 Hours feature, we’ll take you through the Arapahoe, Cambridge, McCook region, exploring what these towns have to offer through video, photos and words. We hope this might inspire you to make plans to visit rural Nebraska on your own weekend adventure. You’ll be surprised at how much you can find in 36 Hours.

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Keep in Touch

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Dynamic Towns & Cities:

Curtis

Curtis

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

Nestled in the beautiful Medicine Creek Valley, Curtis is roughly equidistant between McCook, Lexington and North Platte. Separated by only seven miles, Curtis proudly proclaims 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...

Stratton

Stratton, Nebraska

‘A Good Place to Grow’ is fitting slogan for Stratton entrepreneurs

Sit down for a cup of coffee or lunch in Stratton, and almost invariably, one or two of the locals will begin a story about a business concept that sounded impossible – until some can-do person in Stratton brought it to delicious fruition.

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Benkelman

Benkelman

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.

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Minden

If the perfect small town exists, it just might be Minden

If you could sit down at a drawing board to design the perfect small town, you’d start with a superb education system, then add in gracious and affordable homes. You’d want to make sure you had a prosperous manufacturing sector so there would be good jobs and a sound economy, then perhaps you’d want to add some interesting retail enterprises on wide, safe streets. You’d want to make sure to design in a strong sense of community, with a lot of citizen participation in community decisions, quality healthcare facilities and nearby opportunities for camping, hunting and fishing. Put down your pencilMinden, Nebraska. You’re describing Minden.more...

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Also Featured This Month

A grand restaurant tradition in Columbus
For those who think fine dining in rural Nebraska equates to pulled pork and potato salad, it will only take one visit to Traditions Inn in Columbus to put your mind, and your palate, at ease.

Magic started it all
When friends and fellow gamers Cody Dame and Tanner Lytle decided to turn their hobby into a business, the deck was stacked in their favor.

Clear skies over Nebraska
We asked readers and fans to submit their night sky photos for our photo essay this month. The array of colors visible in the night sky is stunning.

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