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.
“Main street is thriving,” says Ashley Rice-Gerlach, Cambridge Economic Development director. “Cambridge applies a policy of economic gardening, meaning we nurture each business in the community and focus on attracting one job at a time.”
Cambridge is not only business-friendly, it’s just plain friendly. Newcomers quickly integrate into the Cambridge community, in no small part due to the welcoming atmosphere they find in places like Shirley K’s coffee shop and the TownTalk Restaurant down the street.
“Visitors and tourists may stop by for coffee or Shirley K’s famous sweet rolls or maybe lunch but they will always find conversation,” Rice-Gerlach said.
A drive for constant improvement
One of the problems many rural communities experience is a shortage of adequate housing — but not in Cambridge. Cambridge leaders looked into the future and planned for the growth of Cambridge. Today the Harvest Meadows subdivision, a 77-acre development on the east side of Cambridge, greets highway travelers. The new subdivision is centered by a newly opened Anew Travel Center, open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The new development includes new houses built or planned by local residents and construction companies. And the 18 residential lots were free.
“Lots were free, streets were poured and the sewer, water and electric was all ready to hook up,” Rice-Gerlach said.
Cambridge continues to move forward. Those in economic development continue to focus on one job at a time and anticipate the announcement of a new enterprise near Harvest Meadows in the very near future. In 2013, Cambridge was awarded a grant to build a truck fueling station, including a truck wash, convenience store, restaurant, and showers. Cambridge was awarded the grant because of grain-based fuel products produced in Cambridge.
Cambridge is ideally located midway between Denver and Omaha, between the scenic Republican River and Medicine Creek and only nine miles from the dramatic views and recreation opportunities in and around Harry Strunk Lake and the Medicine Creek State Park.
A good place to raise children
Rice-Gerlach talks about Cambridge from the perspective of a 30-year-old who moved here with an eye to buy a business and raise her family. While she took a job with Cambridge Economic Development, her husband, Cody, took over the Cambridge Clarion newspaper.
“We saw opportunity here,” she said. “Cody and I moved because we were offered an opportunity to buy a business and we both appreciate our childhood memories of growing up in small towns. In Cambridge you will see young people riding their bikes, walking to the softball field or playing in the park, and when we became parents we wanted our children to enjoy similar experiences.”
Lush, leafy cottonwood and oak trees shade McKinley Park where kids can take advantage of a swimming pool, ball diamonds, a brand new splash pad — like a mini water park for young children — and two miles of walking and bicycling trails alongside scenic Medicine Creek.
Adults aren’t forgotten either. Cambridge is justly proud of the beautiful Cross Creek 18-hole golf course. As the longest public golf course in the state — 7,205 yards — Cross Creek offers a variety of teeing areas, wide fairways, and large greens.
Cutting edge schools
Cambridge is small enough to be close-knit, but it’s surprisingly cutting-edge in many ways. In addition to being home to at least three world-class sculptors and a state-of-the-art ethanol production facility, Cambridge schools are among the best in the state.
According to Cambridge School Superintendent Robert Gregory, the staff-to-student ratio is approximately 1:15 and the Cambridge School Board and the Cambridge School Foundation support a program which provides every student in grades 9 through 12 with a laptop computer to use as their own for the school year. Middle School and younger students share one laptop for every two students and teaching is geared to using the most current wireless Apple technology.
Graduation rate is nearly 100%. Superintendent Gregory said, “I have been here three years, and I don’t remember a year when we didn’t graduate 100% of our students.” Generous scholarships are also available for graduates. Gregory said, “Last year for a graduating class of 23, the community provided $300,000 in scholarships.”
A strong athletic tradition as well as music, speech, the arts, and school-sponsored activities balance school life for the students.
Every student is encouraged to participate in the school activities, Gregory said. “The school sponsors one-act plays, band, choir, quiz bowl, football, volleyball, cross-country running and track, and due to Cambridge Schools high rating academically and our strong tradition in sports and the arts, 60 students opted into the Cambridge School District in 2013.”
Newly remodeled hospital
Tri-Valley Health System serves Cambridge as well as a number of communities in southwest Nebraska and northwest Kansas.
In 2011, Tri-Valley celebrated the completion of a new Healthy Living Center and the renovation of the residential services and senior living buildings in Cambridge. The hospital’s architecture and use of materials are specifically designed to support a healing, comfortable environment for patients and their families by including soft colors, curves and rounded corners, and live, green plants both inside and in peaceful meditation gardens outside.
The Healthy Living Center includes an indoor fitness facility equipped with the latest exercise equipment and programs for all fitness levels. The center opens early morning and closes in late evening and is always staffed.
Tri-Valley CEO Roger Steinkruger emphasizes preventive health and healthy communities when he describes the mission of Tri-Valley Health System.
“Along with responding to the sick and injured, we offer programs to promote healthy living and preventive care, and we keep health care as close to home as possible,” Steinkruger said. “Prevention is important, and it applies to all ages.”
For all that, Tri-Valley offers top-grade technology in the hospital and clinic and their claim of one of only two 16-slice CT scanners in Nebraska is a source of pride in the community.
“The CT scanner enables doctors to see soft tissues very quickly and in great detail,” says Steinkruger. “It’s a tremendous aid not only in the emergency room but in a number of diagnostic procedures.”
A special appeal to artists
Beyond business opportunities and lifestyle advantages, there’s something about Cambridge that attracts artists. The city is home to three artists with national and international reputations.
Sondra Jonson of S.L. Jonson Studios has created sculptures from miniatures to monuments for clients throughout the United States and in Europe. Jonson is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College and a former student of world-renowned sculptor EvAngelos Frudakis. Her most recent project in Nebraska is a life-size sculpture of a World War II veteran at the Veteran’s Memorial in North Platte.
Gary Ginther graduated from McCook High school and left Nebraska to work as a fishing and hunting guide in Colorado where he developed his hobby of drawing into a career. Major organizations, among which are Ted Turner Enterprises and Universal Studios, have commissioned Ginther’s sculptures, but his work is also featured locally at the High Plains Museum in McCook, the Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Oxford, and the Archway Monument in Kearney.
With artist Jon Leitner, also a Cambridge area resident, Ginther created a life-size sculpture of Senator George Norris which can be seen in front of the historic Norris Home in McCook.
If a healthy lifestyle, opportunities to prosper in business, quality schools and healthcare and a strong sense of community rate high on your dream list, Cambridge is your town.