THE SUPERIOR EXPRESS

July 24, 2014

 

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NEWS!

12 area departments battle Fairfield fire

Oak prepares to observe anniversary of Indian raids

Equipment comes out of retirement to harvest field near Ruskin

Former Hilltop Truck Stop has new tenant

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The Superior Express 24 July 2014

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Video from the 23rd annual Victorian Festival held in Superior Memorial Day weekend have been added! If you let the video continue after it ends, other new ones will play automatically.

12 area departments battle Fairfield fire

Fire departments from at least 12 communities responded to the call for assistance Tuesday morning in battling a fire that extensively damaged the John Deere farm equipment dealership located east of Fairfield along Highway 74.
A South Central Unified School District 5 board member heading home after a late meeting saw the fire and turned in the alarm soon after midnight.
Evan Hansen, a Fairfield Fire Department volunteer who lives eight miles away at Deweese who was paged to assist the Fairfield department told a Hastings Tribune reporter he could see the flames as he headed to Fairfield.
Evan told the Tribune, "The tin was hot enough that it was just glowing."
Firemen had to shuttle water from Fairfield to the dealership located about two miles east of town.
The Superior Volunteer Fire Department sent two trucks, including its ladder truck and several firemen to assist with fighting the fire. Other departments responding to the call to assist Fairfield included Lawrence, Nelson, Blue Hill, Glenvil, Clay Center, Edgar, Harvard, Hastings and Sutton.
Oregon Trail Equipment which has dealerships in Superior, Hebron, Hastings, Beatrice and Marysville, had one of its largest installations at Fairfield which was a combination of dealerships that were once located in Lawrence, Sutton and Fairfield.
The fire appeared to have started in the southern part of the complex and spread to the northern part.
A number of farm equipment pieces were inside the building and parked nearby when the fire started John Deere servicemen, guessed Tuesday morning at least six combines had been destroyed along with a number of other pieces of equipment. While firemen were still battling the fire, Oregon Trail personnel were attempting to conduct business with area farmers, trying to serve them in spite of the loss of their main building.
The north end of the building had a lot of second story storage space and smoke was still billowing from this space more than 12 hours after the alarm was sounded.
Representatives of the State Fire Marshal were on hand Tuesday morning preparing to investigate the cause of the fire as soon as it was safe to enter the building.
Highway 74 was closed for several hours while firemen hauled water from Fairfield to the fire scene.
Several explosions were reported, probably caused by fuel in the equipment tanks and other combustibles used in the operation of the business.
The firemen set up a perimeter line to keep spectators away from the fire.
Allen Ostdiek a reporter for the Nuckolls County Locomotive-Gazette and a retired member of the Lawrence Fire Department was at the fire scene much of Tuesday morning to cover the fire. His uncle, Butch Schroer, and cousin, Bill Schroer, were long time associates with the local dealerships which have become part of Oregon Trail Equipment.


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Oak prepares to observe anniversary of Indian raids

Throughout the month of July The Express has been printing stories about the small Nuckolls County community of Oak and the community's importance to the Oregon Trail and Pony Express route and the settlement of the Western United States. The stories have been a prelude to the day of celebration the people of Oak have organized to mark the 150th anniversary of the establishment of the Oregon Trail.
The trail can be compared to one of today's transcontinental interstate highways. It was the route west for thousands upon thousands of settlers and fortune seekers.
And the trail was a flash point for the Native Americans willing to exchange their lives for the preservation of a nomadic way of life that had been their ancestors' way for generations. In the end, the natives lost and the European invaders won but both sides have much to be proud of. Saturday some of their stories will be retold.
Few businesses are left in Oak today but it was once a thriving community with a flour mill and later a water-powered electrical generation plant that provided power to nearby communities. Oak even had a radio station, KFEQ, and a powerful baseball team.
Saturday the town will come alive again. Community residents have been preparing for weeks. Buildings have been painted and repaired, lawns mowed, trash hauled off and big plans made.
Vendors have been invited to display their wares at the fire station and in the village park. Entertainers have been secured, plans developed to feed the hundreds of expected visitors, props built for the historical reenactments and volunteers secured to play the roles of various trail characters. Starting at 1 p.m. and continuing at two, three and perhaps four o'clock, caravans of automobiles will depart the First Community Church for tours and reenactments of historically significant events along the Oregon Trail.
The celebrations held every four or five years since the first one 50 year ago, always offer a fascinating glimpse into the early history of Nuckolls County.
Several stories in this issue of The Express touch on the rich history of the Oak area.

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Equipment comes out of retirement to harvest field near Ruskin

By Marty Pohlman
A two acre patch of unharvested wheat, located on a quarter section of land northwest of Ruskin, attracted a sizeable crowd last Wednesday. It wasn't free Wheaties day with some assembly required but rather an opportunity to pay homage to the men and equipment of an earlier era and how they brought in the harvest. Organized by Don Betten, several vintage tractors and combines gathered on the land owned by Ray Biltoft and farmed by John Melton, to allow a group of retired farmers to show the new generation how it was done.
Ward Aurand, a spry 90 year old from the Hardy community, brought a John Deere tractor and combine from the early 1950s. The combine featured a self-contained engine which powered the combine. Don Betten provided a Massey-Ferguson tractor, complete with John Deere steering knob, and a 1948 Allis-Chalmers combine which was operated from the PTO of the tractor. John Melton provided a vintage John Deere tractor and a not so vintage auger for unloading the combine bins into a even less vintage grain trailer.
The weather, which had caused the event to be postponed from the previous week, made amends by providing cloudy skies and cool temperatures. Betten envisioned the event, which has been held four of the past five years, as a way for retired farmers to enjoy a return to the land they worked for many years, in a somewhat stress free environment. Bernard Betten started the harvest with the Allis-Chalmers combine leaving the field clean. Aurand began cutting on the inside of Betten and the two took off with engines growling and chaff flying. The duo progressed down to the south end of the field when Aurand, who was a bit behind, stopped his tractor, stood up and began flailing his arms trying to attract Betten's attention. Betten, who was concentrating on looking at the swathe he was making , failed to see Aurand's frantic gesture. So Aurand did what any 90 something would do: he took off running across a wheat field rife with badger holes to try to convince Betten to stop. Betten finally noticed Aurand and came to a halt. Aurand explained that Betten was missing a piece of his combine and that it might function better if it was attached. Betten retraced the path of the Allis-Chalmers and soon emerged with a long piece of chain which had dropped off the combine. The chain was reainstalled and the harvest resumed. Aurand returned to his tractor and off they went.
The combines of yesteryear had grain bins with a limited capacity. The Allis-Chalmers holds about 25 bushels while the Deere holds about 40. This required several trips to the auger to be unloaded. There was a delay in unloading the first bins as the tractor assigned to the auger had a dead battery and a replacement had to be installed. Despite the brief setbacks, the harvest was a success. The field averaged more than 50 bushels per acre and the assembled crowd had an educational afternoon.
The oldest person in attendance was Arne Larsen, 102 and a half years old. Larsen was a long-time implement dealer in Hebron and had sold the Allis-Chalmers combine being used. The youngest was future farmer Jaxi Clark, a ripe old three and a half months of age. More than 50 people attended the event making that field one of the larger population areas in Nuckolls County for a brief time.
Phil Johnson, Davenport, another of the event organizers, is off to Sandusky, Ohio, later this month. He is picking up a John Deere corn picker from the early 1950s and plans to use it in a demonstration harvest near Oak later in the season. There were some concessions to modern improvements present. A large camper trailer with a sunshade provide protection for some of the attendees and a stereo system provided background music for the assemblage. The porta potty would not have been standard equipment 60 years ago.
Among those in attendance were Phil and Deb Johnson, Arne Larsen, Don and Bernard Betten, Ray Biltoft, Mike Stichka, John and Brock Melton, Martin Tietjen, Berwyn Peterson, Glenn Hofts, Roger Williams, Howard Miller, Reuben Schleifer, Greg Walburn, Matt and John Sullivan, Thayne, Wes and Jack Clark, Ward Aurand, Dennis Lauritzen, Brenda Betten, Janet Walburn, Sam McCord, Taylor Lynch, Ed and Brenda Scheif, Paula, Todd, Amy, Julian and Karle Voss, Allie Vieselmeyer, John Mick, Coltin Hansen, Anita Betten, Bernard Betten, Beverly Harms, Chris Grav, Courtney and Jaxi Clark. Nuckolls and Thayer County communities were well-represented at the event and plans were being made for this years corn and next season's wheat harvest demonstartions. Perhaps they should harvest beans and have a do-it-youself tofu day?

 

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Former Hilltop Truck Stop has new tenant
Doug Pierce is a stickler for details. That helps explain his chosen career of detailing motor vehicles, farm equipment, boats and airplanes. Pierce got his start in the business working after school, weekends and summers, when at the age of 13, he convinced an automobile dealer to teach him the basics and then the subtlies of the detailing business. He remained at his shop in Danbury for six years then moved to Holdrege where he purchased two buildings to house his growing business. He also had a shop in McCook where he handled the work for all the dealerships in town. He then returned to the Sacramento area of California. The call of Nebraska was too strong to resist and he returned to Orleans, where he has operated a shop for the past 15 years. He encountered a health issue more than two years ago and his children encouraged him to slow down a bit. He began looking for a new location and a friend mentioned that the former Hilltop station was available. He contacted the Byron State Bank, the owner of the building, and arranged a one year lease. Pierce plans to purchase the property in the near future.
He has spent the past month cleaning up the property and is open for business from 7 a.m. to 5. p.m, Monday to Friday.
Pierce and his wife of 34 years, Shelia, have purchased a house in Superior and will be making their home here. The couple have two sons, Tim, Arvada, Colo., and Stanley, Red Cloud. Their two daughters are Shelly, Doniphan, and Jenny, Kearney.
Pierce will be offering his services to all area residents.

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