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Our Latest Rural Business Opportunity:

Commercial Building Opportunity
Just Listed in Holdrege, NE

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Our Latest Rural Housing Opportunity:

Comfortable Brick Home
Just Listed in Wauneta, NE

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Rural Success Stories:

Sunheat International

Sunheat International

GROW business Sunheat International warms up chilly days

As you complete your holiday shopping, we encourage you to take a look at what Nebraska entrepreneurs have to offer through the GROW Nebraska website. This month, we are sharing some tips for finding GROW Nebraska products and also featuring one of GROW Nebraska’s entrepreneurs in our Rural Success Story. Sunheat International products are sold in GROW stores and through

“It’s that time of year when staying warm dominates our thought process, and nobody has heat on their mind more than Josh Rookstool of Sunheat International,” writes Scott Rager. Sunheat International is a Nebraska-based business that focuses on quality by selling through independent stores, not big box chains.

“We prefer to work with mom-and-pop stores because they understand the product and cater to the customer,” Rookstool says. Check out the story behind Sunheat International and take a look at what other GROW Nebraska entrepreneurs offer in this month’s Rural Success Story.


Central American Foods

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.


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.  


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Articles & Essays:

Krafty Kristmas

Central Nebraska Public Power & Irrigation District

A Kris Kringle Krafty Kristmas!
by Michelle McCormick

Michelle McCormick has given herself the lofty title of “junkionado” since she and friend Kim spend the last weekend every September cruising the roads of central Nebraska on the famous Junk Jaunt. She found several treasures this year but wasn’t sure what to do with one item until a Christmas craft show inspired her.

For less than $10, Michelle transformed a dirty window into a twinkling Christmas centerpiece admired by her family and friends. Her thriftiness shows how treasures are just waiting to be uncovered in the piles during Junk Jaunt.

Read how she came up with her Krafty Kristmas in an essay that will get you into the holiday mood. Fill a cup with eggnog, sit back, and look at what’s around you to come up with your own Krafty Kristmas.


CNPPID invites birds “rest your wings!”

by Betty SayersCNPPID

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.


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?”


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Rural Foodies:

Haythorn Land & Cattle Co.

Haythorn Land & Cattle Co.

Haythorn Ranch offers culinary experience straight from the Old West

by Scott Rager

North of Lake McConaughy lies a ranch where you can stumble into the pages of a Louis L’Amour novel, writes Scott Rager. And the family that runs Haythorn Ranch has the western hospitality and tasty cooking to make you feel right at home.

Craig and Jody Haythorn have a long family history in rural Nebraska dating back to 1884, but in 1999, they built an event center to host the Cattlemen’s Ball that year, a large scale extension of their habit of inviting people to their family table.

Since then, the facility has been used for weddings, receptions, meetings and retreats with full catering services available. And the Haythorns' smoked meats, a centerpiece of these occasions, can also be ordered and shipped anywhere in the United States through Haythorn Land & Cattle Smoke Shop. We invite you to meet the Haythorns in this month’s Rural Foodie experience.


Traditions Inn

Traditions Inn

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.


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.


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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:



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.



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...

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Also Featured This Month

Unusual blend of film and photo brews success in Alma
Photography supplies and one-hour film processing may draw customers into Joe Camera in Alma, but they often sit down and order a rich coffee drink, a tea or a frosty drink and a cinnamon roll and sit down to listen to a story, tell a story or meet a friend in the community.

Christmas isn't Christmas without stolen
For many people in a wide swath around McCook, Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without stollen from Sehnert’s Bakery.

Bella Italia still Nebraska’s choice for Italian gourmet
This is not our first visit to the Bella Italia, nor, indeed, the first time we’ve written about it, but we were looking for a holiday treat we were almost guaranteed to enjoy, and we’d heard there had been changes inside and out since our last visit.

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