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July 2014

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Volume 68, Number 7, July 2014

“The Rural Voice of Nebraska”

Staff Editor Wayne Price Editorial Assistant Kathy Barkmeier

Published by the Visit us at

Contents Features



The brainchild of Earl and Mary Boston of West Point, Nebraska, SmartMemorials is a way to use modern technology to bring memories of the deceased to life. As each SmartTag is scanned with a Smartphone or tablet, the viewer is sent to a website with information about the veteran.

General Manager Troy Bredenkamp President Randy Papenhausen, Cedar-Knox Public Power District Vice President/Secretary Ron Jensen, Loup Valleys Rural Public Power District Treasurer David Keener, Niobrara Electric Association, Inc. Published monthly by the Nebraska Rural Electric Association, 1244 K Street, Box 82048, Lincoln, Nebraska 68501, (402) 475-4988.

Advertising in the Rural Electric Nebraskan does not imply endorsement for products by the Nebraska Rural Electric Association. Correspondence should be sent to Wayne Price, Editor, Rural Electric Nebraskan, Box 82048, Lincoln, NE 68501. The Rural Electric Nebraskan is printed by Quad Graphics, 660 Mayhew Lake Rd. NE, St. Cloud, MN 56304. Form 3579 should be sent to the Rural Electric Nebraskan, Box 82048, Lincoln, NE 68501. Periodicals postage paid at Lincoln, Neb. POSTMASTER: send address changes to the Rural Electric Nebraskan, 1244 K Street, Box 82048, Lincoln, NE 68501. Publication numbers are USPS 071-630 and ISSN 0193-4937. Rates: $10 for one year; $15 for two years; $20 for three years, plus local and state tax.

July 2014

Burton’s Bend Music Festival


Burton's Bend Music Festival is two full days of musical entertainment in the form of Americana, country, cowboy, gospel, folk, pop, and blues. The festival is celebrating its fifth year in Holbrook, Neb.

Departments EDITOR’S PAGE












On the cover A statue at the Veterans’ Memory Walk in Norfolk, Neb. depicts a kneeling chaplain. It was sculpted by James Havens of Ohio and is intended to honor veterans from World War I through Vietnam, by including various elements from the time periods in the one piece. See the related story on Page 6. Photograph by Wayne Price.



Electric rates in Nebraska rank among lowest ast Saturday morning I woke up wondering why my electric bill I paid in June was so high. I think what got me started down that path of thinking was the loud buzzing of the alarm on my electric clock.I switched off the alarm and turned on the electric lamp on my bedside nightstand. I needed the light to find my iPhone, which was also on my nightstand and plugged into the wall outlet being charged. I checked a few apps, including the weather forecast for the weekend, and watched a couple videos on YouTube. Reluctantly I got out of bed and got ready for the day. I brushed my teeth with my electric toothbrush and took a hot shower, thanks to my electric water heater. My wife was a few steps ahead of me, her hair already dry from the electric blow dryer and in the process of being straightened with an electric hair straightener. I went to the kitchen, flipped on the light, and put a couple slices of bread in the electric toaster. I opened the refrigerator and took out some eggs and bacon to fry up on the electric stove. After breakfast I helped my wife load the dishes into the electric dish washer. She went into the laundry room to start a load of whites in the electric clothes washer and I checked on the kids. The door on our oldest daughter’s room was still closed but I could tell she was awake from the music blaring. One of our boys was already playing video games on the Playstation 3 in the family room and another was surfing the Internet on the computer. I found Sarah, our youngest daughter, sitting in front of the television in the living room watching an episode of one of those Disney shows she had most likely already watched three or four times. I spent the next few hours in the garage, which also doubles as my woodworking shop. I used an electric tablesaw, electric sander, electric bandsaw, electric router and electric compound saw while working on my latest project. I plugged in the electric wet/dry vac to clean up the mess and ran the electric air compressor to dust myself off before going back in the house. My wife was making lunch with the electric oven and stove while I made myself a glass of


by Wayne Price


ice water using ice from the electric ice maker. As I made a quick walk through the house I found that my sons had switched places on the Playstation 3 and computer and Sarah was still watching the Disney channel. I rounded everyone up, putting the boys to work unloading the dishwasher and the girls to the task of setting the table for lunch. After lunch was over and all the dirty dishes had been loaded into the dishwasher, I claimed my spot on the couch to watch a movie on blu-ray. Doing so required turning on the electric television, electric blu-ray player and electric surround-sound system. About an hour into the movie and I felt a little warm so I got up to turn on the electric ceiling fan. And while I was up I decided to make myself a bag of microwave popcorn and grab a cold soda. We all went into town later to do a bit of shopping and came home just as the street lights were coming on. The house was nice and cool on our return because the electric air conditioner had been running during the warm afternoon. After the kids were done with their showers and ready for bed I plugged my iPhone into the charger and turned on the electric television in the bedroom to watch the local news. Before falling asleep I remembered my concern from the morning, my electric bill. Would you believe it cost me around $3.56 for the entire day’s worth of electricity? The point of my story is to illustrate that electric rates in Nebraska are pretty low. Residential electricity rates in Nebraska average 10.04¢/kWh, which ranks the state among the lowest in the nation. One reason for Nebraska’s low electrical rates is its unique status as the nation’s only completely public power state. The state uses an efficient dependable “mix” of generating systems to supply current and projected needs. This mix includes coal and nuclear-powered generating facilities plus several gas, oil, diesel, hydro, and wind generation facilities. So remember the next time you hear someone saying that the public power model isn’t working for Nebraska, it is working just fine.

Rural Electric Nebraskan

Acreage Insights - Life Outside the City Limits ural Nebraskans, those living on farms or acreages, have many property management issues requiring their attention that don’t affect city dwellers, such as managing a well and septic system, windbreak planting and maintenance, controlling weeds on a large property and planting a home vegetable garden or orchard. Some rural residents moved to the country because they want to live closer to nature and wildlife, while others find they need to manage damage from the wildlife they’ve attracted. Others want to raise livestock on a small scale or have horses. Finding reliable information for such a wide array of topics can be difficult. That’s why University of NebraskaLincoln Extension provides one-stop, research-based, timely information for anyone living outside the city limits through the Acreage Insights – Life Outside the City Limits. The website offers educational videos on a host of topics. Recent topics have focused on controlling Canada thistle, nitrates in drinking water, and evaluating hazardous trees. All videos can be found on our


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YouTube channel, AcreageInsights. more information on other great Additional monthly offerings programs. include a look at country life from the farmer’s perspective in “Talking Over Email Newsletter the Fence”, along with an acreage Finally, visitors can sign up for our commentary entitled “Views from the monthly email newsletter, featuring Land”. Don’t miss the drinking water timely articles on managing water, Q & A; monthly featured landscape ornamental landscapes, food-crop plant, animal, plantings, wildlife, Find us on insect and weed. and much more. A Search the variety of topics • Facebook, website for topics are addressed of interest, and each month, • Twitter, @AcreageInsights submit questions including those • YouTube, AcreageInsights to UNL experts, below that have through the Ask An Expert feature. been covered in recent months. • Raising Meat Chickens in Small Upcoming Programs or Backyard Flocks Acreage Insights also features • Testing Private Drinking Water upcoming programs by UNL • Fencing Around Onsite Waste Extension experts. These programs Water Lagoons will vary throughout the year. Recent • Select Outdoor Yard Lights for offerings listed include: Security and Safety • Tractor Safety Classes for 14- and • Musk Thistle Management 15-Year-Olds • Healthy Trees- Avoiding Common • Growing Small Fruits Webinar Problems at Planting is Half the • Tour of Wetlands Battle • Wildflower Walk For more information on the UNL • Lake & Pond Management Acreage website, acreage newsletter, Workshop or for answers to your acreage Visit Acreage Insights, questions, contact your local UNL Extension office., for


SmartMemorials T is technology of present and future by LaRayne Topp


he World War II veteran walked slowly up to the memorial wall at Norfolk, Nebraska. He read the name on a small rectangular plate: John W. Carson. “I can’t believe it,” Fred Egley said. His 97 years of memories were clear: teaching Johnny Carson as an instructor at Norfolk High School, enlisting in the military in 1943, around the same time Carson did, and meeting John F. Kennedy on a PT boat during the war. Throughout the Veterans’ Memory Plaza, small, white tags bore the names of many men with whom he’d served in the military. Among them was a tag bearing the name of his former student, Johnny Carson, who had enlisted in the U.S. Navy in hopes of becoming a pilot. Even more unbelievable to the veteran was how the memories connected with each veteran became

Rural Electric Nebraskan

alive through the utilization of a Smartphone coupled with a new technology known as SmartMemorials. The brainchild of Earl and Mary Boston of West Point, Nebraska, SmartMemorials is a way to use modern technology to bring memories of the deceased to life. Utilizing SmartTags lined up in rows as orderly as the award ribbons on the lapel of a veteran, each small, rectangular tile on the memorial included a veteran’s name and years of service. As each SmartTag is scanned with a Smartphone or tablet such as an iPad or Netbook, the viewer is sent to a website with information about the veteran. Individual websites contain information contributed by the veteran or the family of the veteran, limited only by their imagination. Contributions may include photographs, videos, music, obituaries, memorial bulletins and family geology, for example, as well as tributes and memories from others. In addition to military and civic memorials, the Bostons also place SmartMemorials porcelain chips on individual cemetery gravestones, a practice which comes as no surprise as they are owners and managers of West Point Monument Company in West Point, Nebraska. Each chip contains an inch square design, called a Quick Response or QR code, which is scanned and read by the Smart phone or tablet. The QR code is a square grid made up of a series of square dots arranged on a white background. First invented in 1994 by Denso Wave for the automotive industry in Japan, the code was used to track vehicles following their manufacture. The high-speed, scanning barcodes are now used in a broad number of applications, and often in print media such as airline tickets, according to Earl Boston. Its popularity has spread widely due to the system’s swift readability and impressive storage capacity. The Bostons have adapted this QR

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Earl and Mary Boston created SmartMemorials as a way to bring memories of the deceased to life.

code technology to the death care industry, marketing to affiliates— cemetery associations, funeral homes and memorial companies— throughout the United States and Canada. SmartTags have the capacity to transform once static memorials into living memorials. In the past, gravestones could give only so much information. The family name, plus the individuals’ name, birth and death dates, and possibly names of parents or children were carved into stone, much as they are today. If a person were searching for a family member, and had never met the deceased person, the stone could only give the information carved into the stone. “In the old days, a grave or veterans site was always basically the same,” Boston said. “It didn’t give enough information for you to know that person if you didn’t know that person before he passed away.” Boston likes to compare the concept of SmartMemorials with printed obituaries. In the past, an obituary was a historical document stuck in a drawer somewhere. As such, it never changes. Currently, a funeral director will display these obituaries on the funeral home website. But in the future, with the utilization of SmartMemorials technology, a SmartTag can turn an obituary into a living obituary, Boston explained. “Obituaries appearing in funeral home websites are a fairly recent development of the

last few decades. Now they can use SmartMemorials to enhance these obituaries.” In addition, Boston has found that planning a SmartMemorials website gives families a way to work through their grief. With SmartMemorials technology, it’s possible for a viewer to see images of the person throughout his or her life, hear the person speak, and learn about his or her accomplishments, interests and ambitions. SmartTags can also contain family genealogy information, so that a viewer can find out where ancestors homesteaded or learn how the family tree branches out. “It’s great for friends and family who are interested later in life in family genealogy,” Boston said. To date, SmartMemorials websites have tracked 20 million visitors, with more than 32,500 memorial websites to view and providing a wealth of information. The Boston’s encourage people to plan their own SmartMemorials websites while still alive, adding information they’d like to have available once the site is activated. People can even plan their own funeral through the site, adding songs they want sung along with other information. Boston also makes SmartTags available to interested funeral directors for funeral bulletins and burial notices in newspapers. Anyone Please turn to page 8


SmartMemorials From page 7 reading those print materials is able to connect with the SmartMemorials websites by scanning the print code through a Smart phone even though thousands of miles away. In large city newspapers, publishing a complete obituary can be expensive, Boston said. With the addition of a SmartTag to a short funeral notice, readers may be able to read the obituary through the website. It’s also possible to see a

Top: The sculpture entitled "Remembering" was created by Sutton Betti of Colorado. Above: An etching depicting the Revolutionary War covers a bench.

A Smart Tribute SmartTAGS can be placed on a monument or at any appropriate location, providing family and friends easy access to the memorial website by using a smart phone. They are made from kiln-fired Italian ceramic porcelain and have a self-adhesive backing for easy mounting. They were originally conceived as a way to allow people


photograph of the gravestone if the family has included the image on the website, or if the gravestone is recorded through an Internet program such as “Whether they’re in Texas, California or Timbuktu, they can visit the website anytime and the grave too,” Boston said. The Boston’s see the SmartMemorials technology expanding far beyond individual gravestones. SmartTags can be placed on individual compartments of columbariums, designed as public storage for the cremated remains of the deceased. They also anticipate

the ability to physically attach meaningful memories to a gravestone or memorial.

For more information about the Veterans’ Memory Plaza or to order a Memory Tile for a veteran, please email: or visit the website at:

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the use of SmartTags at state parks, history museums or other avenues as a way to share historical information with visitors. The Veterans’ Memory Plaza in Norfolk, is a prime example. Dedicated in November of 2013, the eight-acre park is one of the first to incorporate SmartTags into its design. As part of a larger Heroes Park, the Plaza has space for more than 2,000 memory tiles, making the project truly unique. For those who don’t have a Smartphone, websites can also be accessed through a link at website. The Plaza memorial was designed by the Boston’s, and incorporates four stations of memory tiles, bordered with brick columns. Each brick column features round tablets of black granite etched with black and white images of actual veteran photographs. Etchings also cover benches placed throughout. One scene, for example, shows a veteran at Arlington National Cemetery, and another, two veterans at the wall of the Vietnam Veterans National Memorial at Washington D.C. Two life-sized, bronze statues pay homage to the memorial, one of a soldier in combat gear kneeling down to touch the Memorial, and another of a kneeling chaplain, holding several dog tags below an eternal flame. Artists James Havens of Woodville, Ohio, and Sutton Betti of Loveland, Colorado created the statues. Woven throughout are wheelchairaccessible sidewalks, shadowed by the American flag waving overhead along with five flags representing the different military branches of the United States. In addition to the Norfolk Veterans’ Memory Plaza, West Point Monument has also been involved in other area veteran memorials, including those placed in front of courthouses in Cuming and Thurston counties. A second veterans memorial to incorporate SmartTags and SmartMemorial technology will be the American Fallen Warriors

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Project in Kansas City, a tribute to veterans who have served in more recent wars. Earl and Mary Boston opened West Point Monument Company in 1983. During that time Earl was employed by the Cuming County Power District, working first as a lineman and then serving in other various capacities. He retired in 2001,

devoting his time to West Point Monument Company and more recently, the SmartMemorials company. To learn more about the company, to view sample SmartMemorials websites, or to look at purchasing a SmartTag, visit, or call the Boston’s at (402) 372-6154.


Photograph provided by Neuton

Mow your lawn safely this summer very homeowner owns lawn and garden equipment of some type. This equipment is so common and used so frequently that the dangers associated with its operation are often ignored. Probably the most dangerous piece of equipment used around the house on a regular basis is the lawnmower. Each year approximately 75,000 people are injured seriously enough by lawnmowers to require emergency room medical treatment. Injuries may range from minor cuts and bruises to amputations and even death. Only a small percentage of the injuries are caused by mechanical failure. Most are the result of human error, including lack of familiarity with the mower, loss of control, operating in poor conditions, operating in the vicinity of other people, improper clothing and allowing children to operate the equipment. You can become familiar with your mower by reading the owner’s manual before the first time the mower is needed. It contains



information specific to that machine such as the location of all controls, starting procedures, maintenance instructions and safety rules. Always read the owner’s manual before operating a machine with which you are not totally familiar. Proper clothing is essential to protect your body from harm. Always

wear sturdy, non-slip shoes instead of tennis shoes or sandals. Steel-toe safety footwear offers the most protection against the blade. Long pants help protect your legs from objects which may be thrown from under the mower, such as small rocks and sticks. Hearing protection is also needed to prevent hearing loss caused by exposure to the high noise levels. Children and power equipment do not mix. They should be kept separate. Youngsters always want to help with jobs around the house, though, and are often allowed to cut the grass even though they are not really mature enough to handle the task safely. They are also very quick, and a mower left running and unattended even for “just a minute” can be fascinating to a child. Never leave a mower running unattended for any length of time. If the mower has electric start, the key should never be left in the switch. The main source of danger is the blade which does the actual work of cutting. In order to perform its task efficiently, the blade must be sharp

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and travel at a high speed. This sharp, high-speed blade can cause serious injury if a hand or foot is allowed to get under the mower deck while the engine is running. Never attempt to unclog or work on a lawnmower while the engine is running. Any time it is necessary to reach under the mower, disconnect the sparkplug wire to insure that the engine cannot start for any reason. It does take a little extra time to restart the engine every time, but not as long as it does to recover from a serious injury. The manner in which the lawnmower is operated on slopes is also important. Push mowers should always be operated across the slope so your foot will not get under the mower if you slip, nor will the mower roll down the slope and run over you. Pulling a push type mower is also dangerous, as your foot might slip under the mower. Riding mowers are generally more stable when operated up and down the slope. Avoid operating on steep slopes or near ditches to prevent overturning. Never operate a riding mower on steep slopes by walking alongside the mower as you run it across the slope. There is too much risk of losing control and you are setting a bad example for others. There is also the danger of objects being thrown from under the mower by the blade, whose tip may be moving as fast as 200 miles per hour. A person struck by a rock or piece of wire thrown with such force could experience severe injury or even death. Always check the lawn for loose objects which could be thrown by the mower and remove them before starting to mow. For their protection, children, pets or other people should be moved away from the area to be mowed. You can increase your safety by making sure that all the shields are in place on your mower. Refueling hot engines and smoking while refueling can result in serious burns, often to large portions of the body. Always allow the mower to cool down before refueling, perhaps

July 2014

taking a rest period at the same time. Any gasoline which is spilled should be wiped up immediately. Always refuel outdoors and move away from the fueling location at least 25 feet before starting the engine to avoid igniting fuel vapors which may linger for some time. Another source of danger is that of carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless and tasteless gas. It is absorbed into the bloodstream through the lungs approximately 210 times easier than oxygen, leaving very little oxygen available for body tissues. Whenever an engine is started in an enclosed area, such as a garage, the danger of carbon monoxide poisoning exists. Symptoms include weakness, nausea, headache and visual problems. Any time you suspect that you or someone else is a victim of carbon monoxide poisoning, move immediately to fresh air and call a doctor or poison control center for further advice. Always move outdoors before starting the engine

so that the dangerous gases cannot accumulate. Keep the blade sharp to reduce the power required and to provide smoother cutting, and run the engine at the lowest speed that will do the job. The lower blade speed will reduce the force with which objects are thrown by the mower while at the same time reducing engine wear. Source: Timothy G. Prather, University of Tennessee Extension


Burton’s Bend Music Festival

f you’re a fan of music in just about any style from Americana and country to gospel and blues, you need to make plans to visit the 5th annual Burton's Bend Music Festival in Holbrook, Neb. The two day music festival will be August 8 & 9 at the Central Plains Development Center. “The Burton’s Bend Music Festival is a two-day celebration of roots and roots-inspired music in its various styles,” says festival producer Christine Whipple. Roots music is a broad category of



music including bluegrass, country, gospel, blues, Native American, folk, etc. “Roots” music is considered American traditional music because it developed there, sometimes out of foreign origins, and it served as a basis for music later developed in the United States, including rock and roll, rhythm and blues and jazz. Whipple said there is nothing else like it in the area. “Our mission is to bring professional touring musicians to the small rural community of Holbrook and to provide area performers a

professionally produced event where they can share their talents,” Whipple said. “In addition, amateur and young performers are given special attention through showcases and learning sessions offered throughout the event.” The vision of Burton’s Bend Music Festival started eight years ago as Whipple was being exposed to other old-time music festivals around the country while she traveled with her daughter, Alexa, who was developing her own musical career. The name of the festival comes from the town’s

Rural Electric Nebraskan

original moniker, which was named after one of the first settlers to the area, Issac Burton. Burton was a saddler for the cavalry at Fort McPherson and was impressed with the area where Deer Creek joins a bend of the Republican River. He vowed to return one day and settle there. He returned eight years later in 1870 and the settlement became known as “Burton's Bend.” A post office by that name was established in August 1872. The railroad came through the area in the late 1870s causing the town’s quick growth due to all the traffic of the westward movement of settlers and hunting expeditions. The town’s name was changed to “Holbrook” in 1881 in honor of a Chicago, Burlington, & Quincy Railroad official. Artist’s for Burton’s Bend 2014 include, The Punches Family Band , Alexa Whipple, Cindy Boehler, Three 4 All, The Prowell Family Band, A Little Bit of Heaven, 120 EZ, Janet McBride, Pat Boilesen and more. The event is presented by The Burton’s Bend Music Festival Committee, the Central Plains Development Center and the Village of Holbrook with support from the Nebraska Arts Council, the Nebraska Cultural Endowment, the Furnas County Visitors Committee, ATC Communications and Ag Valley Co-op of Edison. The festival begins each day at 10 a.m. with musical theme shows and learning sessions on a variety of topics and continues through the afternoon and evening with concerts and opry-style shows. Afternoon shows begin at 1 p.m. and evening shows begin at 7 p.m. Back by popular demand is the “Gospel Music Gathering,” Friday evening celebrating gospel music in several styles. HoJo’s Hideaway is the premier food vendor providing breakfast, lunch and dinner each day. Admission to the festival is $20 for two days or $11 for one day, with youngsters 12 and under admitted free with a paid adult. Advance purchase two-day passes are available for $18 by calling (308) 962-7555.

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The festival is held at the Central Plains Development Center, which was once a school. It is located right on Highways 6/34 (on the south side of the highway), across from the City Park. Camping There are lots of camping sites at the City Park across from the Festival grounds, with a limited number of sites with electricity and lots of “dry” camping available. Camping fee is $10 per day with electricity and $6 per day without electricity. Call 308-9627555 to reserve your RV site. Camping with electricity is also available at the Shady R Motel (308962-5421) in Arapahoe and Ohrman's Trailer Park (308-9625464) in Arapahoe. Cabins are available for rent in Arapahoe as well (308-962-7948). Motels are located in Arapahoe and Cambridge, Neb.

The Punches Family, top, and the Prowell Family are among the music acts scheduled to appear at the festival.

An Arapahoe Star


lexa Whipple, daughter of Rodney and Christine Whipple, from Arapahoe, Neb., is quickly becoming known as a song stylist whose repertoire and abilities cover several genres. She has already received numerous awards for her talents. Some of which include; receiving the 'Contemporary Country Music CD of the Year Award' from the National Traditional Country Music Association, Yodeling Champion at the Old-Tyme Country and Bluegrass Festival in LeMars, Iowa and the youngest ever to receive the 'Entertainer of the Year' award from the Nebraska Country Music Foundation at age 11. Alexa was selected from over 2000 auditions to perform in Branson, Missouri for the Shotgun Red Variety Show which was aired on RFDTV national television. In addition, she was selected to entertain at the Nebraska Rural Electric Association annual meeting in 2012 in Kearney, Neb. Alexa also provides entertainment for numerous private and community events as well as retirement homes, nursing homes and churches. Alexa, 19, attends University of Nebraska-Kearney where she is an honors student and track athlete. She is studying nutrition and exercise science. She spends a lot of her free time playing at gigs and practicing with her band.


Save energy by limiting swimming pool heat loss by Brian Sloboda

hen you’re lounging comfortably poolside, energy efficiency is likely to be the least of your worries. But for many homeowners fortunate enough to have these fun backyard spaces in which to swim and splash during the season, the cost of heating their pools and concerns about wasting electricity are summer realities. The energy used to heat a pool is quickly sent to the outside environment if the pool is not properly covered when not in use, and harnessing this “free heat” is important for those early morning swimmers.


Pool heaters and energy efficiency To extend their use beyond the summer season, many people heat their pools. Heating is a fairly simple process. But so is heat loss. Approximately 70 percent of heat is lost when it evaporates. There are


simple steps homeowners can take to prevent heat loss, but the easiest way is to cover the pool when it is not in use. Pool covers filter out finer debris, block heat loss caused by evaporation and provide an insulating effect. Savings will depend on how long the pool is covered, but it can add up to as much as 50 percent in energy savings per pool season. When using a pool cover, residents will also save on makeup water since more will be retained. The existing pool water will not evaporate as quickly. Calculating the exact savings associated with a pool, especially operation and maintenance, can be tricky. The size of the pool, as well as your local climate, plays a major role. The Washington State University Extension Energy Program provides a free Pool Energy Use Calculator on its website that helps pool owners determine how much they will save based on their specific application. ( Tools/PoolEnergyUseCalculator.aspx)

Choosing a pool cover Picking a pool cover will depend on the size of the pool and how much space you have to store the cover when not in use. Transparent insulating solar covers are the most common. They float on top of the pool and resemble bubble wrap. These covers block evaporation and allow the sun’s rays to heat the pool during the day. An alternative to a conventional pool cover is a chemical cover, which provides some evaporation protection without the hassle of moving the cover on and off the pool. Chemical covers often involve a type of alcohol molecule that floats to the top of the pool water when the water is calm. Chemical covers are designed for use while the pool is occupied, but their effectiveness is diminished when swimmers or wind disturb the pool surface. Savings from chemical covers are often less than from traditional ones. Pool covers provide the highest energy savings when they are used regularly. Deciding whether to invest

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Swimming in Savings wimming pools and hot tubs are fun toys, but accompanying high electric bills are not inevitable. A number of relatively simple changes can cut operating costs by half or more. At about $400 per year, the typical residential in-ground pool can account for one-quarter of a household’s annual utility bill. Hot tubs cost just a bit less to operate—about $300 per year. Electricity for above-ground pools runs about $100 per year. Most pool energy goes to power the circulating pump, with much smaller amounts needed for cleaning and water treatment. In heated pools (which make up only 10 percent to 20 percent of all residential pools), energy use varies widely depending on climate and use patterns. The most common heat source is natural gas, followed by propane and electric resistance systems. Solar heating and electric heat pumps are gaining ground as highefficiency options but are still not widely used. Pumps are the heart and soul of any pool. Most pools rely on a single-speed, 1.5- to 2-hp pump that runs at full speed for eight hours a day or more. More efficient pool pump options include: • Replace an existing single-speed pump with a high-efficiency singlespeed pump. High-efficiency pumps use 8 percent to 10 percent less energy and are only marginally more expensive than standard pool pumps—about $10 to $20 above the normal pump cost of $350.


• Replace an existing single-speed pump with a twospeed pump. As the name suggests, two-speed pumps can run at two speeds and are more efficient because they don’t go “full throttle” all of the time. By running at a lower speed for 16 hours per day, you can save 60 percent to 70 percent on electric bills. A two-speed pump will cost an extra $100 to $150. • Replace an existing pump with a variable-speed pump. The most efficient pumps can vary speed—and therefore electricity consumption—with the required workload. Although a variable speed pump will cost about $650 more than a basic pump, it saves the most energy by far—nearly 90 percent—and offers the greatest operational flexibility. Price and availability should improve over the next few years as more pool owners adopt this technology. In addition to replacing an inefficient circulating pump, other measures to consider are: • Use a bigger filter. An oversized filter will result in less pressure loss on the pumping system, enabling greater water flow with less energy. The larger filter will also last longer between replacements. • Use bigger pipes (typically, 2 inches in diameter instead of 1.5 inches) and large-radius elbows. Making the flow path smoother and wider reduces pressure loss and pumping power.

in a conventional cover, chemical cover or both depends on the number of hours you and your family actually spend in the water. Other factors include the labor costs to move and store the cover, as well as activity levels in the pool and ambient conditions. So when you and your family are lounging poolside this summer, remember ways to save energy for your backyard oasis. Brian Sloboda is a program manager specializing in energy efficiency for the Cooperative Research Network, a service of the Arlington, Va.-based National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. Additional content provided by ESource. Photograph provided by Safe Electricity.

July 2014



Protect children and pets from household electrical hazards ccidents around the home result in millions of injuries to the most vulnerable members of your family — young children and pets — each year. For example, approximately 2,400 children receive emergency room treatment annually for injuries caused by inserting objects into electrical receptacles, according the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). With a few precautions, these and other injuries can be avoided: • Install tamper resistant outlets (TROs) that protect against small children inserting foreign objects into them. Simple plastic caps typically used can be easily removed by some children. • Keep electrical cords tied up or out of sight. • Unplug all appliances when they are not being used, such as hair dryers or coffee makers. • Keep appliances out of children’s bathrooms. • Teach children not to touch appliances when they have wet hands and to keep appliances away from water. • Teach children other basic safety tips such as staying away from out-



Damaged cords can easily short or spark, creating a fire hazard. Exposed wires can produce a severe shock. Replace any outlet that is damaged or cracked. Illustration provided by Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) lets and not touching electrical cords. Some of the same tips apply to pets: • Keep electrical cords away from cats and puppies who love to chew on them. • Make sure nightlights and appliances are fully plugged in. Partially exposed prongs can be a temptation to curious critters. • Keep halogen lamps away from

pet play areas. If knocked over, they could start a fire. • Keep appliances in bathrooms away from water. Playful pets can knock radios or curling irons into water, creating a dangerous situation. • Discourage cats and dogs from curling up for naps behind electrical equipment such as computers. Source:

Rural Electric Nebraskan

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Finding the right AC contractor by James Dulley

: When my central air Q conditioner conks out, it is always on one of the hottest days. What is the best way to pick a good repair contractor? Is there any preseason maintenance I can do myself? An old central air conditioner or A :heat pump does typically conk out on the hottest days. This is because it is running almost nonstop to keep the house cool. Also, the efficiency and cooling output of the unit drops as it gets hotter outdoors, putting even more strain on the old compressor, especially the bearings and valves. Finding a good contractor to repair or replace an old air conditioner is important because you expect your system to keep running for a long time after their repairs. The refrigeration system in an air conditioner is a complicated piece of equipment. You have no way to determine if things are set properly, so you have to trust that the contractor did it correctly. When selecting a contractor, first check with your relatives and friends about who they have used and their satisfaction. Also, when a contractor gives you a list of references, you should call each one. People often are afraid to offend a “nice guy” contractor, so they do not tell them of problems. They will, however, share any negative experiences with you, which will help you make your hiring decision. If you do not have a source for contractor names, check with the AirConditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) and the Sheet Metal and AirConditioning Contractors’ National Association (SMACNA). Reputable contractors will belong to one or both


of these organizations, which can give you a list of members in your area. When installing a new system, the contractor should do a thorough analysis of your house and calculate its cooling needs. This should involve more than just measuring the outside dimensions and then recommending the same size unit (one ton is 12,000 Btu/hour) of cooling as you have now.

Seal duct joints with duct tape and close off the humidifier duct damper. Photograph by James Dulley Improper sizing will result in higher utility bills and poor comfort level. A knowledgeable contractor should ask if you currently have any heating and cooling problems, particularly with various rooms. There may have to be additional return air registers and ducts installed. This can increase the overall cost significantly, so the lowest estimate is not always the one you should select. If your system has just broken down and you have at least three contractors to give you quotes, be wary of ones who immediately want to replace the system with a new one. They should take the time to determine the current problem and provide a quote for repair.

Take your time to evaluate the quotes and recommendations. Although your family might be uncomfortably warm for several days, don’t rush your decision. It is not as dire as having your furnace go out during winter when your water pipes may freeze if not fixed immediately. There are several maintenance tasks you can do each spring to keep your air conditioner running efficiently, but don't eliminate regular professional service. Heating and cooling systems are no longer simple devices. They are packed with electronic circuit boards and controls, meaning you would have no way to test them without specialized readouts and training. Having adequate air flow through the outdoor condenser coils is imperative for good efficiency and a long life. This is where the hot refrigerant expels its heat to the outdoor air. If the air flow is impeded and reduced so the refrigerant does not cool as designed, it can throw off the entire functioning of the system. Make sure there is a foot or two of clearance around the housing where the coils are exposed to the outdoor air. This may require trimming back a few shrubs or not stacking things like junk and garden tools against the outdoor unit. If you notice some of the heat transfer fins on the coils are bent over and touching so air cannot flow between them, separate them with the tip of a scraper. Don’t flex them too much or they may break off. They don't have to look uniform to be effective. Make sure all the screws on the housing are tight. This insures the air is being drawn through the coils and fins.

Send inquiries to James Dulley, Rural Electric Nebraskan, 6906 Royalgreen Dr., Cincinnati, OH 45244 or visit

Rural Electric Nebraskan

Take a vacation from high electric bills oaring temperatures and sultry summer nights can cause electric bills to skyrocket. This summer, take a vacation from high electric bills by making your home— and your family’s habits—more energy efficient.


Beat the Heat Air conditioning helps most Americans beat the sweltering summer heat. According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), air conditioning accounts for as much as 50 percent of the average household electric bill. Proper maintenance and smart use of your home’s cooling system will help keep your electric bill in check. First, make sure your air conditioner’s external unit is clean and free of debris. Clear away dead leaves or overgrown plants and weeds to enable the unit to perform as it should. Second, change all of the air filters inside your home quarterly, or more often in homes with allergy sufferers or smokers. Fresh filters not only reduce the strain on your cooling system, but improve the air quality in your home. Third, the DOE recommends that you set your home’s thermostat as high as possible, while still maintaining a comfortable environment for your family during the summer months. Bumping the thermostat up at least two degrees can make a noticeable difference on your power bill. Investing in a programmable thermostat can lead to even greater savings by automatically adjusting it so that the cooling system runs more often when you are at home and less often when you are away. Made in the Shade Windows are not only great sources of natural light in your home, but also great sources of heat during the summer. Curtains, blinds, and shades are some of the most cost-effective

July 2014

ways to make your windows and home more energy efficient. These window coverings offer low- cost, stylish solutions to shield the sun’s rays and keep the interior of your home cool and comfortable. Proper weather stripping and caulking around window panes and casings will also improve the function of your windows by keeping the cool air in and the hot air out. Solar film applied to your home’s existing windows will further repel the summer heat. Daily Grind Today’s appliances are more energy efficient than ever, performing better and using less electricity than they did in the past. But despite their functionality and efficiency, most major household appliances give off heat when in use. During peak daytime temperatures, the residual heat from appliances can put an

unnecessary strain on your home’s cooling system and send your power bill soaring. Cooler temperatures in the early morning or late evening make these ideal times for running the dishwasher or washing and drying clothes. When possible, turn off your dishwasher’s dryer cycle. This prevents even more residual heat from warming your home and saves on your power bill. Washing your clothes in cold water and hanging them out to dry are also great strides in reducing your household energy consumption. As your summer heats up, call on your local rural electric utility for more ways to lower your power bill. You can also visit to find out how little changes around the house can add up to big energy savings. Sources: DOE,,

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Creamy Baked Chicken Breast 4 chicken breast, boneless 8 slices Swiss cheese 1/4 cup dry cooking wine

1 can cream of chicken soup 1 cup seasoned stuffing 1/4 cup oleo, melted

Arrange chicken in baking dish. Top with cheese slices. Combine soup and wine, stir well. Spoon over cheese & chicken. Sprinkle stuffing over & drizzle oleo over. Bake 350 degrees for 50 minutes. Can use Stove Top stuffing.

Lillias Davenport, Overton, Nebraska

Sweet Dill Refrigerator Pickles 2 cups sugar 2 cups vinegar 2 cups water 1/4 cup pickling salt

Pork Spiedini 2 pounds boneless pork loin, cut into 3/4-inch cubes 3/4 cup cider vinegar 3/4 cup olive oil 4 tablespoons lemon juice 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce 1 tablespoon dried oregano 2 cloves garlic, minced 2 teaspoons black pepper 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon cayenne 6 slices Italian bread, thick Mix together all ingredients except bread, place in a self-sealing plastic bag and refrigerate 4 to 24 hours. Remove pork cubes from marinade (discarding remaining marinade); thread pork onto skewers. Grill over hot coals for 4-5 minutes; turn and grill another 4 minutes. Serve by pulling meat off of skewer onto Italian bread. • If using bamboo skewers, soak in water for 30 minutes to prevent burning.

Recipe provided by the National Pork Board

3 quarts sliced unpeeled cucumbers 1 large onion, sliced 3/4 to 1 cup minced fresh dill

In a saucepan combine sugar, vinegar, water and salt. Bring to a boil and boil 1 minute. In a large non-metallic container, combine cucumbers, onion, and dill. Pour dressing over; cool. Cover and refrigerate at least 3 days before serving. Yield: 3 1/2 quarts. I make in a gallon glass jar. Pickles keep over a year in refrigerator. Stay real crisp.

Mary Loseke, Ewing, Nebraska

Lemon Meringue Pie 1/3 cup cornstarch 1 1/4 cup sugar 1/4 teaspoon salt 3 eggs, separated 1/3 cup lemon juice 2 cups boiling water 2 tablespoons margarine 1 baked pie shell

Meringue: 1 tablespoon cornstarch 1/2 cup water 2 tablespoons sugar 1/8 teaspoon salt 4 tablespoons sugar (add to beaten egg whites)

Combine meringue ingredients in sauce pan. Cook until thick & clear, cool. Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Add 4 tablespoons sugar. Beat well. Slowly add cooled cornstarch mix. Beating until stiff peaks form. Pudding: Combine cornstarch, sugar, salt, water, lemon juice. Bring to boil until thick, add egg yolks, continue boiling until thick. Add margarine. Pour in pie crust. Top with meringue. Bake in 350 oven 12-15 minutes or until meringue is lightly brown.

Shirley Mahon, Niobrara, Nebraska

We forgot the butter The Rhubarb Crunch Dessert recipe in the June issue should include 1/2 cup melted margarine or butter in the ingredients.


Rural Electric Nebraskan

JUL- 1: DWM, 60 from northeast Nebraska, looking to meet honest fun-loving female age 55-62. Like dancing, outdoor cooking, Husker football. I’m 5’6”, 180 lbs and lot of fun to be with. JUL- 2: DWF, 66, looking for a kind, caring, loving man to enjoy going places together. Likes fishing, gardening, garage sales, short trips, C&W music. Enjoy family and friends. NS. Please send photo. I’ll answer all.

To appear in print The Rural Electric Nebraskan Adult Pen Pal Service is exclusively for member-readers ages 18 and over. To be considered for use, submissions must: (1) Identify rural electric system providing magazine; (2) Include $6 to cover mail forwarding costs; (3) Be 25 words or fewer; (4) Include full name and mailing address (will not be used in magazine); and (5) Be first person, submitted directly by person to receive responses. Acceptance, editing and issue scheduling is at editor’s discretion. Address all submissions to Rural Electric Nebraskan Adult Pen Pal Service, P.O. Box 82048, Lincoln, NE 68501. All responses received by the Adult Pen Pal Service are routed directly, postage paid, to the response number assigned to each submission.

JUL- 4: M, R&R, seeking adventurous female 22-30 years old. Musician, Mad-Scientist, Tech Guru, & Pilot. The four mesh to make the mush that is me. JUL- 5: DWCF, NS/ND, mid-60s from far southern Nebraska enjoys gardening, family, friends, mini-vacations, dining out, movies, some cooking & baking, playing cards, & good country music. Like to meet a nice man 65-78 yrs young, retired or semiretired.

JUL- 3: SWM, 47, NS, social drinker, from northeast Nebraska, never married, no children. I enjoy going to Country/Rock Concerts, dining out, and just talking. I know you are out there – somewhere. Let’s start out as friends and see where things go.

To write To respond to one of the adult pen pal requests, write letter, place in envelope, seal and affix first class postage. Address to full, correct response #, c/o Rural Electric Nebraskan Adult Pen Pal Service, P.O. Box 82048, Lincoln, NE 68501. Your letter will be forwarded unopened. Do not send money or additional postage; forwarding is prepaid. Enclose your full mailing address for return correspondence. Once again . . . it is very important that all responses carry the full response number—both month and number—to be properly forwarded. Abbreviation Code C — Christian; C/W — Country-western; D — Divorced; F — Female; M — Male; NS — Non-Smoker; ND — Non-Drinker; R&R — Rock and roll; S — Single; W — White; Wid — Widowed

July 2014


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Rural Electric Nebraskan

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Rural Electric Nebraskan  

The Rural Electric Nebraskan (REN) has been published since January 1947. The role of the REN is to chronicle the benefits and challenges of...

Rural Electric Nebraskan  

The Rural Electric Nebraskan (REN) has been published since January 1947. The role of the REN is to chronicle the benefits and challenges of...

Profile for reneditor