Neighbors to the World

Rural Success Stories:

Task Lighting

Task Lighting

Task Lighting shines a light on life's dark spots
by Betty Sayers

For 30 years, Task Lighting in Kearney, Nebraska, has been illuminating the dark spaces of homes and businesses. As writer Betty Sayers learns, it all began when founder and CEO Ken Anderson discovered his own sensitivities to florescent lighting. That sensitivity led him to devise a solution that incorporates low voltage incandescent bulbs.

Since then, Task Lighting has grown to focus on LED lighting, technology that changed the industry in the 1990s. But Anderson is never one to sit back and watch things happen. He has pushed his company to continually evolve and search out new ways of lighting to solve every challenge out there.

And as many of our successful entrepreneurs share, customer service is an important component of any good business plan. In this month’s Rural Success Story, learn how Task Lighting listens to its customers to build a company that weathered the recession and emerged even stronger because of it.

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Nebraska Through the Lens

Nebraska Through the Lens

Nebraska’s beauty shared with nearly 100,000 photo fans
by Kristine Jacobson

When Steve Evans started a public Facebook group to share scenic Nebraska photos, he had no idea the page would grow to nearly 100,000 members just three years later. But that’s exactly what happened with Nebraska Through the Lens.

As the page nears its 100,000th member, it averages more than 100 new members every day. Writer Kristine Jacobson explains how the page has launched photography careers, served as a statewide news source and connected people across the world.

A Nebraska tornado photo received 10,000 likes and was featured in a national weather photo contest. The page has given recognition to both amateur and professional photographers and has served as an excellent source of content for the Nebraska tourism industry. View a few of the stunning photos, read more about the page’s creation in our Rural Success Story, and then visit the Facebook page where you can while away many hours staring at the stunning photos.

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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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Articles & Essays:

2017 Solar Eclipse

2017 Solar Eclipse

Get ready for America's coast-to-coast eclipse

2017 might seem like a long ways off, but if you plan to stake out the perfect viewing spot for the next total solar eclipse, it never hurts to plan early. As Kim Woods tells us in this month’s essay, the August 21, 2017, total solar eclipse will slide right through Nebraska on its 68-mile wide, 2,500-mile long journey from coast to coast.

The next total solar eclipse won’t occur until 2024, and it won’t cross Nebraska, so 2017 will be the perfect time to view the extraordinary event. Woods says more than 30 million U.S. citizens live within a one- or two-day drive of the central path so interest is high. Read all the details in Woods’ essay and start making plans today.

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Accolades for rural Nebraska advocacy

Betty Sayers, Nebraska Rural Living

Nebraska Rural Living co-founder Betty Sayers was recently honored to receive the 2015 Seventh Generation Award from the Center for Rural Affairs for her work to promote rural Nebraska living. We couldn’t be more proud of all she has done to bring recognition to the rural communities of our state. Read the full press release and join us in congratulating her for this outstanding honor. 

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Spring Migration

Spring Migration

Now's the perfect time to witness the annual spring migration

The annual spring migration is a sight every Nebraskan should witness at least once. March is the height of spring migration season and Betty Sayers has rounded up the best places and events to visit during this spectacular season.

Take a look at all the state has to offer this month, and then plan your birding adventure.

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Sculptural Surprise

Wheelin’ to Oconto for a sculptural surpriseWheelin' to Oconto for a sculptural surprise
by Kristi Spiegel

Kristi Spiegel and her husband, Jeff, have been married for 33 years and riding motorcycles together for more than 35 years. They’ve traveled a lot of miles on their bikes, but last summer, Kristi was surprised to find a fascinating treasure along the road to Oconto.

Kristi, an artist herself, writes about the sculpture garden developed by a retired farmer. She shares her story and her pictures with us in this month’s essay.

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Rural Foodies:

Between The Slices

Between The Slices

Blissful experience is found Between the Slices
by Michelle McCormick

A new sandwich shop in Alma causes writer Michelle McCormick to wax poetic. The menu calls her name, and she and fellow Rural Foodie Betty Sayers don’t feel the least bit guilty eating pie first as McCormick recounts their visit to Between the Slices.

Between the Slices was opened by husband and wife dream team Shaun and Angela Moore just last fall. Already the couple has found their rhythm. Angela’s homemade baked breads and pies, coupled with Shaun’s mouth-watering meats are the perfect lunch time combo.

The couple is looking forward to the summer, as Nebraskans and visitors drive through Alma on their way to Harlan County Reservoir. If you’re in the area, stop by and see if what you find Between the Slices inspires words of praise in this month’s Rural Foodie find.  

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The Enchanted Bakery

The Enchanted Bakery

Dreamy confections at The Enchanted Bakery
by Kristine Jacobson

Sisters Ana Gonzalez and Veronica Ramsey prove that reliving your childhood can have delicious results. When they were longing for the cakes and cookies they once enjoyed growing up in Mexico, they decided to turn their dream of starting a business together into The Enchanted Bakery.

Their bakery in Grand Island celebrates the unique flavors of Mexican cakes and cookies with delicate chocolate-covered cherries, fresh fruit garnishes and bright bits of color. They transformed a home-based business into a bustling storefront with the help of family.

Now the sisters beam as they share their story with writer Kristine Jacobson. It’s the type of success story we love to share at Nebraska Rural Living. Sit back and savor every bite of this month’s Rural Foodie find.

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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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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

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:

McCook

McCook

Isolated and proud, there’s more to McCook than meets the eye

No one is a stranger for long in McCook. “McCook is isolated and proud,” says long-time resident, Gene Morris.  “There’s no nearby Denver, Omaha, Lincoln or even Kearney to go to, so we do for ourselves, and we flourish.”

Although McCook, like many rural Nebraska communities, can boast of friendly people, excellent schools and low crime, it enjoys some amenities that many smaller communities don’t have, including McCook Community College, an airport with commercial service, a modern hospital and rivers, reservoirs and open space for hunting fishing, camping, boating and wildlife viewing. 

And one more thing – the climate.  As Rex Nelson, director of McCook Economic Development Corporation, says, “The climate here is wonderful – similar to Denver, but with less snow.” more...

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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Also Featured This Month

Haythorn Ranch offers culinary experience straight from the Old West
When you step foot onto the Haythorn Ranch in western Nebraska, you might as well be stepping into the pages of a Louis L'Amour novel.

VK Electronics fast forwards from movie rentals to thriving electronics store
For the owners of VK Electronics Home and Mobile in McCook, it’s been a wild journey since they opened their doors as a video rental store in 1983.

NCTA equine program covers the wide world of horses
In Nebraska, a place horse owners can come to learn more about their animals while they hone their competitive skills is the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture in Curtis.

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