a publication of Loup Power District SPRING 2019
Genoa Headworks sustains
major damage in March flood
First Vice Chairman
Second Vice Chairman
Vice President, Engineering
Vice President, Operations
The Loup Generator is
published quarterly as a
service for Loup employees,
families, friends and
For feedback, story ideas
and submissions, contact:
watt we are
In the four-county area on a 115 kV line
My buddies and I travel along, always right on time.
Into substations filled with transformers, breakers and switches we arrive;
We can’t mess around here, because we leave on the 34.5.
We do require insulators on cross arms mounted on a pole;
We don’t want to take the chance of being grounded, we must reach our goal.
For we are sent out on lines that have no end;
Naturally, to satisfy all our customers is our trend.
We enter your home on a line that’s very well fused;
Just there waiting to prove we are wanting to be used.
Even if we are in the 110, 220, or the 440-yard dash;
You will find we don’t cost much in the line of cash.
All year long, be it workday, holiday, daytime or night;
With the flick of a switch, we can make dark become light.
We can heat your water, warm your home, or even keep it cool;
If we are not insulated, don’t touch us — is a very good rule.
With a record on your stereo, we can make it play or sing;
All of this is because we enjoy doing our thing.
Now — what are we??
We are your friends, the watts;
And a thousand of us will make a kilowatt.
— Eldon Sorensen
The above poem was written by Loup Power District’s undercover poet, Eldon
Kenneth Sorensen of Genoa.
Eldon, a dragline operator at the Genoa Headworks, was born
of Danish descent in Lindsay on March 27, 1917, to Albert and
Eldon began writing poetry when he was a child going to country
school. One day, the young lad, Eldon, received a letter from his
girl-cousin in Minnesota. The letter contained a poem written
by his cousin, and Eldon answered her poem with one he had
written. Ever since then, Eldon has been writing poems about
farming, his work, and his friends.
Eldon was a Navy man for three years during World War II,
stationed with the PT fleet in New Guinea and the English
After 28-year-old Eldon was discharged from the service in 1945,
he farmed for seven years. Then he worked as a mechanic for
A. Clawson and V. J Shanahan of Genoa for 11 years. Eldon has been working with the Loup
Power District canal maintenance crew for the past seven years.
His two main hobbies are golfing and bowling, and Eldon notes that his bowling game is
a little better than his golfing average. He bowls for Wheelers Transport and in the Friday
Night Mix at Genoa. Eldon is also a substitute for Westring and Sons, Inc. Bowling Team.
Poet Sorensen is a hard-working employee and a strong promoter of the electric power
industry — he will soon move into a new all-electric home that he is having built.
— from the July 1971 issue of the Loup Generator
Historic flood breaches canal,
damages Genoa Headworks
Historic flood waters devastated much of
the state last month, including Loup Power
District’s service area.
Flooding occurred in all areas served by
the District. The St. Edward substation and
subtransmission lines south and west of
Columbus were damaged.
However, the most significant damage
was to the Headworks and canal system.
During the evening hours of March 12 and
morning hours of March 13, rain and snow
began to fall throughout Nebraska.
Many areas of Nebraska became
concerned about potential flooding due to
a combination of warm temperatures, rain
runoff and snow melt, ice jams, and frozen
ground that was unable to absorb water.
Officials with the City of Columbus and Platte County
were concerned enough — especially with the large ice
jam on the Loup River south of Columbus — that they
contacted the District and asked us to divert as much
water as possible into the canal at the Headworks.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 13
Late in the day, the ice cap the District forms at the
Headworks, which is used to divert water into the canal
during the winter, broke up due to the rain fall and
As night approached, District personnel noticed
increasing water flows in the Loup River — much
greater than the designed capacity of the canal. As
higher and higher water flows continued, District
personnel started sandbagging efforts at the Headworks
intake structure, in order to help prevent more water
from flowing into the Canal.
THURSDAY, MARCH 14
In the early morning hours, it became apparent that
all personnel at the Headworks needed to evacuate for
safety reasons. Around 2 a.m., District operators at the
Columbus Powerhouse noticed unusually large flows
into the Canal and were unsure of the ongoing issues.
Around 3 a.m., the District implemented the
Emergency Action Plan, developed for emergencies
associated with the hydroelectric system. Individuals
by NEAL SUESS
living in the High Hazard area near Genoa and
areas in the southern part of the town were
evacuated because of flooding.
By daybreak, the District was aware of the
significant flooding at the Headworks area and
knew of at least one breach to the canal system,
near the Highway 22 bridge south and west of
FRIDAY, MARCH 15
District personnel were able to get to the
Headworks area and begin to assess the damage
to the Headworks and Canal with the help
of a helicopter. They found massive damage.
Two breaches near the intake structure were
allowing uncontrolled water to flow into the
Canal from the Loup River.
In addition, there were six breaches of the canal that
were allowing the water in the canal to flow onto the
low-lying areas and fields near the Headworks.
The good news is that all District personnel are safe.
We did lose the caretaker house at the Headworks, but
Andy Zarek and his family are safe and we are working
with them to develop a temporary living solution.
District personnel, working with several contractors
and the Nebraska National Guard are working on
temporary repairs. Initial damage estimates sent to the
emergency management agencies for both temporary
and permanent repairs are approximately $25 million.
It will also take several months, if not years, to make
This event has been difficult on all District personnel,
but we will survive this and become stronger in the
end. These events show the destructive nature of our
industry, so we always need to maintain a safe working
environment, which our employees always have.
The District wants to extend thanks to everyone for
their help, especially Preferred Sands of Genoa and the
Nebraska National Guard.
This is a short update, and more information will
be coming out in the weeks and months ahead. Please
keep up with the various social media outlets, such as
Facebook, for more timely updates as we work toward
SPRING 2019 3
Loup employees were on the site of the new
Columbus Service Center March 1 to pull cable.
The building is located just south of Lost Creek
Parkway and east of Monastery Road.
The building will be completed this fall.
County payments total
more than $2 million
Loup Power District delivered
its inside revenue payments and
the second half of the “in-lieuof-tax”
payment to the counties it
This is a benefit of being served
by a locally controlled, not-forprofit
Like other businesses, Loup
Power District pays sales tax,
gasoline taxes, motor vehicle
license fees and permit fees.
The “in-lieu-of-tax” payments
are made to service area counties
in lieu of occupation, personal
property and real estate taxes.
County treasurers distribute the
funds to the various taxing bodies
in each county.
2018 in-lieu-of-tax payments:
Platte — $4,856.89
Boone — $2,539.17
Nance — $3,222.92
Colfax — $120.24
Madison — $179.63
Total — $10,918.85
The District also makes
additional payments to the
counties to guarantee they receive
5 percent of the inside revenues
from the various towns in their
areas subject to the in lieu-of-tax
Additional payments for 2018:
Madison — $39,505.60
Platte — $1,660,207.47
Nance — $128,233.70
Colfax — $93,275.56
Boone — $198,411.86
Total — $2,119,634.19
Loup officials presented lease payment checks to area
communities in February and March. Each of these communities
owns their electric distribution systems. These payments
compensate them for the use of those systems.
Communities use the funds for a variety of public projects.
Primrose — $3,953.35
St. Edward — $48,024.40
Humphrey — $36,111.55
Cornlea — $3,199.66
Monroe — $20,328.87
Tarnov — $2,446.67
Platte Center — $18,345.39
Petersburg — $25,348.33
Columbus — $844,077.98
Genoa — $11,735.00
Creston — $5,488.30
Second Half of 2018
Albion — $121,366.54
Cedar Rapids — $39,102.03
Richland — $6,833.24
Belgrade — $8,332.13
Fullerton — $76,421.56
Duncan — $32,584.46
Howells — $48,323.93
Fourth Quarter of 2018
Lindsay — $44,063.86
Leigh — $10,341.62
Newman Grove — $16,515.41
Loup Power District renewed its
membership in Community Clubs and
Chambers of Commerce in towns throughout
its service area.
Checks totaling $30,414 were presented to
communities in Boone, Colfax, Nance, Platte,
and Madison counties. Payment amounts are
based on the 2018 gross revenues inside each
Albion Chamber — $1,598
Cedar Rapids Community Club — $488
Clarkson Commercial Club — $611
Columbus Area Chamber — $21,385
Fullerton Chamber — $1,097
Genoa Chamber — $797
Howells Community Club — $634
Humphrey Community Club — $670
Lindsay Community Club —$1,421
Leigh Community Club —$100
Newman Grove Community Club — $605
Petersburg Community Club — $313
Primrose Community Club — $100
St. Edward Community Club —$595
SPRING 2019 5
‘We were in awe’
Flood estimate tops $20M
The before and after photos illustrate the
destructive power of water and ice.
A home lost. A building damaged. Earth
and concrete moved with apparent ease.
Water everywhere. It seemed unbelievable.
The water began rising March 13.
Loup Power District employees tried to
fight Mother Nature with sandbags and
determination. But in the end, they had to
“We didn’t win this battle,” said Andy
Zarek. “We’ll get the next one.”
‘A recipe for disaster’
Zarek began working for Loup Power
District 20 years ago at the age of 18.
Three years ago, he was named Headgates
Operator and moved with this family to a
District-owned home on the site.
He knows the river can behave badly
this time of year. He watches it daily.
Listens to weather reports. Monitors the
Weather reports warned of a bomb
cyclone that was forecast to hit much of
Nebraska. The explosive storm, fueled by
rapidly dropping atmospheric pressure,
would hit like a winter hurricane. Still,
Zarek wasn’t overly worried.
On Monday, March 11, Loup employees
broke up ice around the intake gates with
dynamite and a crane. They noticed it was
unusually thick — about two feet in spots.
Usually, the weather warms up a bit
in February, melting and breaking the
river ice cap slowly. But this February was
unusually cold. And early March followed
suit, roaring in like a lion.
Then, the forecast for Wednesday,
March 13, called for highs around 60 °F
with some heavy rain.
“That’s a recipe for disaster,” he said.
‘Way more than we expected’
The Loup Power canal and two
powerhouses were constructed in the
1930s with a $7.3 million loan and grant
from the Public Works Administration.
The Genoa Headworks serves as the
beginning of Loup’s canal system. Gates
are adjusted as needed to direct the proper
amount of water from the Loup River into
More than 80 years of ice jams and
heavy rains and snow melt have passed
through the canal. Only once, in August
of 1966, did those waters cause any
Heavy rain filled the Loup River and
spilled over the intake structure. The
water flowed north and traveled along the
side of the canal before washing out a road
and going back into the canal.
It also washed out two bridges and
damaged a number of transmission lines.
The District’s dredge — used to clean
sediment from the two-mile settling
basin at the start of the canal — washed
downstream until it hit a tractor. The
impact was nearly $600,000 — about $4.4
million in today’s dollars.
But that was more than 50 years ago.
For the last 26, Randy Prososki has also
watched over the river and canal. He took
over as Headworks Supervisor last October
following the retirement of Gary Pearson.
Every year, the ice jams break up and
go down river.
“We were prepared for the ice to go
out of the river like it does every year,”
And that’s what happened on the
afternoon of Wednesday, March 13. The
first ice jam broke and went through the
canal at around 3:30 p.m., followed by
a second around 5 p.m. Then Prososki
Zarek watched the ice go through the
canal. It was a little thicker than usual
and bent up a few of the gate arms, but
he figured they could be replaced. He still
wasn’t overly concerned, but asked his
wife and two children to stay in Genoa
with family. Better to err on the side of
Before and after aerial drone photos: The top photos show the north side canal breach and damage
to the shop, boiler room and home at the Genoa Headworks.
The bottom two photos show damage on the south side of the canal. Photos by Aric Alt.
SPRING 2019 7
The ice jam at the Highway 22 bridge.
A third jam came through around
7 p.m. Zarek sent a video to Prososki,
who was alarmed at what he saw.
Still, the jam passed and the river
quieted down. But the water kept
rising and Zarek became uneasy.
He knew there must be an ice jam
causing the water to back up.
Prososki made his way back to the
“It was just way more than we
expected,” he said.
The water kept rising and around
9:30 that evening, Prososki called
employees asking them to help
“We couldn’t handle it anymore,”
‘The approach disappeared’
Jesse Hoffmeister joined the Genoa
Headworks maintenance crew in
January. He worked his shift that
Wednesday, leaving at 4 p.m.
He made it home to St. Edward,
about 10 miles north of the
Headworks, only to find that the
Beaver Creek was over its banks and
flooding the town.
As a member of the volunteer fire
department, he began helping rescue
stranded residents. He made it home
around 9:45 p.m. when he got the call
from Prososki asking for help.
Because of the Beaver Creek
flooding, he couldn’t take his normal
route back to work. Instead, he
traveled northwest to Albion and then
back south and east.
When he arrived at the Headworks
around 11:30 p.m., he voiced his
disbelief at the amount of water. The
veteran employees told him it had
been like this before. Everything
would be okay.
Hoffmeister and the other
employees began sandbagging the
intake structure approach.
“We thought we were getting
ahead of it,” he said.
Suddenly, they heard a pop and
ran about 30 yards toward the shop.
“The light pole just started
falling over and the whole approach
disappeared,” Hoffmeister said.
John Fritzges, like Hoffmeister,
is new to his job. He is also on the
maintenance crew and was a few
weeks away from his one-year
anniversary when he got the call
asking him to sandbag.
“The most unnerving thing was
just watching that approach go in
after we had just gotten off of it,” he
Zarek said the 10-man crew just
couldn’t keep up with the rising river.
“We tried for three hours, but it
just wasn’t enough,” he said.
‘It was a nightmare’
The water successfully breached on
the north side of the intake structure.
“It washed out all the concrete
and dirt and made a 30-foot waterfall
until it ate out enough to drain
the river through the whole canal
system,” Zarek said.
Employees knew they had to leave
quickly. The water was starting to
flow north to Preferred Sands and
they realized Headworks Park was
going to flood as well, blocking their
Prososki ensured the crew got out
of the area and told them to head
Flooding at Headworks Park.
home while he stayed to watch over
the Headworks. About 1:30 a.m. on
Thursday morning, he saw the intake
structure walls begin to fully give way
to the river.
A boiler room sits on the edge of
the canal. Crews use it to steam ice
from the gates in winter. Prososki
watched the water consume it, too,
before deciding it was time to go.
He drove over ice chunks to make
it to the highway. There, he waited
for daylight and prayed the canal
wouldn’t breach in Genoa, about five
miles to the northeast.
Meanwhile, Zarek was trying to
make it to Genoa. The familiar, short
trip took almost an hour and a half
because the Beaver Creek flooding
made its way downstream from St.
He went west to Fullerton and
north to Albion. Then he took gravel
roads back to St. Edward and Genoa,
making it into town around 2 a.m.
Top left: A breach by the Highway 22 bridge.
Photo by Aric Alt.
Middle left: A home at the Headworks was destroyed in
the flood. Headgates Operator Andy Zarek lived in the
home with his family.
Top right: Flood waters ripped off an addition to the
Middle right: Derek Stankoski with Preferred Sands helps
close a canal breach.
Below: The weir bridge was ripped away during flooding,
leaving crews with no way to make it to the south side of
the canal. Photo by Aric Alt.
SPRING 2019 9
An hour later, Loup officials
activated the Emergency Action
Plan, which called for evacuations
of residents in the high-hazard area
near the canal.
By 3:30 a.m., Zarek, also a
volunteer firefighter, began knocking
on doors just as the storm’s winds
and snow hit the area.
“We were sandbagging in t-shirts.
Two hours later, everybody was
looking for coveralls and winter coats
because it’s snowing and blowing,”
Zarek said. “It was a nightmare.”
‘Never in my lifetime’
At daybreak on Thursday, March
14, Prososki was able to make it to
the Highway 22 bridge, a few miles
southwest of Genoa, where he saw a
He and other employees were
anxious to survey damage at the
Headworks, but the roads to get there
were washed away. Fierce winds
prevented helicopters and drones
By Friday morning, those winds
died down and helicopter pilot Kim
Wolfe flew a few employees to the
Headworks for the first time since
They found six breaches, including
two gaping holes on each side of
the intake structure. Zarek’s home
tipped into the canal. The parking lot
missing. A 2016 addition to the shop
ripped off. The weir bridge gone.
“We were all in awe,” said
Dan Hellbusch, Vice President of
Prososki said the damage was
There is a light at the
end of this tunnel.
devastating. “I would have never
in my lifetime thought this would
happen,” he said.
It was especially so for Zarek,
whose work and home lives mesh in a
unique way at the Headworks.
“You can’t go home because it’s
gone,” he said.
Then, he gestures to the canal and
“This is like a second home and
it’s partly gone,” he said. “Where
do you start? What do you do? It’s
‘We could fill a need’
The intake structure, emblazoned
with the year 1936, stood its ground
during the barrage — a testament
of Loup’s history and strength,
encouragement to those looking
And that’s exactly what employees
did as soon as they saw the damage.
“We started piecing things
together and getting a plan of what
we were going to do,” Zarek said.
There wasn’t really much time
for decisions, Hellbusch said. “We
just knew we needed to get the water
stopped,” he said.
But first, crews had to get to
the Headworks. The roads were
It was a problem echoed across the
state as county after county declared
emergencies due to catastrophic
flooding. Rivers broke levees and
washed out roads.
Despite the losses, Nebraska
Strong became a mantra that
motivated and inspired people to aid
their neighbors, near and far. The
same held true for the Headworks’
neighbor, Preferred Sands.
The company’s sand processing
plant sits just over the hill to the
north of the Headworks. It purchases
sand dredged from the canal’s
settling basin and produces silica
sand and resin-coated products.
Production Manager Keith Ferris
was at the Preferred site that
Wednesday evening, keeping an eye
on things. When the power went out,
he knew it meant trouble for Loup.
Ferris has a close connection to the
Headworks. He grew up in the area.
His father, Lance, works for Loup. His
great-grandfather did as well.
“I know if we needed help, they’d
help us,” he said.
Plant Manager Scott Teigen said it
didn’t take long for Ferris to suggest
they help their neighbors.
“Keith jumped in and realized we
have a dozer, we have the excavators
and we have the trucks,” he said. “We
could easily fill a need.”
The plant closed due to flooding
and power loss. Both Preferred and
the Headworks lost power because
of damage to two substations along
the canal and power poles near the
Highway 22 breach.
Right: A Black Hawk helicopter drops sandbags into the south-side canal breach. The National Guard used 280 sand bags to fill the gap.
Below: National Guard Soldiers prepare to drop sandbags into the breach.
Far left: A 1,500-pound
sandbag is carried by a
Left: Dalton Osantowski, a
certified rigger with Flat River
Corp. helps Maintenance
Man Jesse Hoffmeister and
Equipment Operator Joe
Kleckner load sand into a
conveyor to fill sandbags.
The National Guard required
that a certified rigger be at the
site during the operation.
SPRING 2019 11
On Saturday, Preferred employees
created a makeshift road from their
plant over the sand pile so they could
drive their trucks to the Headworks.
Later that day, they began hauling
dirt and rock to help fill the northside
canal breach. The river was still
high and it felt like a losing battle at
first, the water washing away their
But they persisted, emptying large
40-ton dump trucks with each load,
finally closing the gap on Tuesday,
“The guys don’t have to be here,”
Ferris said. But they wanted to help.
“There is a light at the end of this
‘You just react and pray’
The Loup River was still flowing in
and out of the canal through another
two major breaches — one on the
south side of the intake structure and
another near the Highway 22 bridge
that was causing damage to Highway
The weir bridge washed away
during the flood so there was no easy
way to get equipment to the south
side of the canal.
By the weekend, flooding was
affecting additional portions of the
state. The Nebraska National Guard
dropped sandbags near Ashland to
protect water wells used by the city of
That sparked an idea for Ron Ziola,
Vice President of Engineering.
He began making calls, starting
with the Nebraska Department of
Natural Resources. Staff members
there directed him to the Army Corps
of Engineers who offered to arrange
a helicopter and get large, vertical lift
sandbags for the District.
Preferred Sands also had extra
sandbags on site that they brought
to the Headworks. They hauled sand
in their trucks while Loup employees
filled the 1,500-pound sandbags with
the help of a belt conveyor on loan
Everything was on track until
District managers received word
that requests for assistance must
come through Nebraska Emergency
Management Agency (NEMA).
Top: Equipment Operator Jack Jones
(left) and Randy Prososki assess damage
at the Headworks.
Left: National Guard soldiers rig up an
ATV to carry to the south side of the
Below: Headworks crews filled the north
side breach with the help of employees
from Preferred Sands.
Opposite page: Headgates Operator
Andy Zarek and Maintenance Man John
Fritzges climb a ladder to the intake
structure to make their way to the south
side of the canal.
There, they retrieved the slings used to
carry the sandbags by the helicopter.
SPRING 2019 13
Denise Ziemba, Region 44
Emergency Manager, was a little
more than six months into her
new role as Region 44 Emergency
Manager, when the flooding hit. She
studied, prepared and planned as
much as possible in those months.
“I don’t think any plan could
prepare you for what would happen,”
she said. “You just react and pray that
the decisions you’re making are the
right ones,” she said.
Ziemba helped coordinate the
earlier evacuations of Genoa and was
working through disaster relief in
Boone, Merrick and Nance Counties.
She was also in contact with Ziola,
and Neal Suess, Loup President/CEO,
trying to get damage cost estimates
as well as updates on efforts to fill
Ziemba agreed the District needed
sandbags to help fill the main
south side breach and called NEMA
On Thursday, a week after the
breach, two Black Hawk helicopters
landed at the Headworks with 18
Nebraska National Guard soldiers
who were ready to help.
The National Guard worked for
three days to fill the breach, finishing
on Saturday, March 23. It took 280
Preferred employees continued to
haul sand and rebuild the permanent
road that runs from Headworks
Park along the canal to the shop.
Koch Excavating and Bygland Dirt
Contracting, Inc., were also working
on roads in the area.
Crews restored power to the
Headworks and Preferred Sands on
Wednesday, March 27, with the help
of Schmader Electric.
Preferred employees helped close
the large breach by the Highway 22
bridge on Friday, March 29.
And on Saturday, March 30, Loup
employees got their first chance to
rest after working every day for more
than two weeks.
‘A long road ahead’
District personnel are now
working to turn temporary fixes into
The canal walls need riprap. Crews
have to build a new bridge. The
dredge took on water during the flood
Top: The canal breaches and sandbags at the Genoa Headworks. Nebraska National
Guard photo by Army Staff Sgt. Koan Nissen.
Bottom: One Nebraska National Guard Black Hawk helicopter begins to lift a
sandbag while another waits.
and has two motors to be replaced.
The flood damage estimate sits
somewhere between $20 and $25
Hellbusch said this damage is more
extensive than that sustained in the
flood of 1966 and will take more time.
The weather conditions also affect
The 1966 flood followed heavy
rains during an August drought.
This storm hit as the rainy season
is just beginning. In the first few
weeks following the flood, there was
more rain and clouds than sun.
“We’ve got a lot more obstacles to
fight,” he said.
The District’s two powerhouses
were not damaged in the flood
and Loup continued to generate
“We continued generating to lower
water levels to alleviate flooding,”
said Hydro Superintendent Brad
Above: Staff Sgt. Joseph Yates looks out the door of his UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter during sandbagging operations March 23.
Nebraska National Guard photo by Army Staff Sgt. Koan Nissen.
Top right: Heavy Equipment Operator Kurt Mohr reinforces the sandbag dike on the south side of the canal.
Bottom right: A National Guard Chinook helicopter carries a Bobcat loader to the south side of the canal. Photo by Dan Hellbusch.
While the emergency was
overwhelming at times, Hellbusch
said Loup employees always jump
in and get right to work following
storms. He’s seen it time and again in
his 34 years with the company.
“It’s all we’ve ever done,” he said.
“Everybody is willing to pitch in and
Zarek said working 12-hour days
for weeks with his coworkers was
difficult, but they helped each other
through the struggle.
“It’s like a family,” he said.
Prososki knows it’s a long road,
but he is quick to put the fight into
perspective. Loup Power isn’t alone
in trying to recover from a historic
NEMA estimates that 95 percent
of Nebraskans were affected by the
“We had a family that lost
everything they owned. Other families
did, too,” he said. “Everybody’s had a
loss of some kind.
Despite his loss, Zarek remains
upbeat and positive that things will
get back to normal.
“We’ll get this back together and
life will go on. It will look great,” he
“We just need a little time.”
by Stacy Wemhoff | email@example.com
SPRING 2019 15
around the District
CLARKSON OPERA HOUSE
The Clarkson Opera House has
hosted dances, talent shows, concerts
and receptions for more than 100
“It’s a great old building,” said
He’s a member of The Clarkson
Community Opera House, Inc., a
nonprofit organization that formed in
2002 to ensure that the Opera House
will host events for years to come.
The history of the Opera House
dates back to the late 1800s when
a fraternal organization formed in
Clarkson. They met in businesses
around town before building their
own hall in 1891.
As the Western Bohemian Fraternal
Association (Zapadni Cesko Bratrska
Jednota) grew in membership it
outgrew the building.
The new Opera House was built in
the fall of 1915 and the ZCBJ had its
first meeting there in January of 1916.
It began showing movies in 1930
and hosted many school events before
Clarkson’s modern high school was
constructed in 1952.
The Lion’s Club leased the Opera
House from 1958 through 1961 and
continued to show movies and host
VFW Cornhusker Post 6419 took
over the lease in 1961 and took care of
the building for 40 years.
When the VFW and Ladies
Auxiliary decided they couldn’t
maintain the building due to their
advanced ages, the nonprofit group
stepped in to take over.
With the help of donations, the
group has updated and maintained
the building for the last 16 years.
Hamernik said they added central
air conditioning and new windows
and refinished the floors several
Another big project is restoring the
hand-painted curtains. One has been
completed with seven remaining. The
curtains are in fairly good shape with
a bit of water damage. They were
painted in the 1920s and 30s.
The Opera House is listed on the
National Register of Historic Places in
Nebraska. It continues to be the site
of community events and hosted the
Glen Miller Band, a Beatles tribute
band, and Elvis impersonator in the
last few years.
Above: The Opera House featured eight hand-painted curtains. This is the first to
be restored and was painted in 1929. It features Svatopluk, a Moravian king who
ruled in the late 800s. His three sons wanted to split the kingdom so they could
each rule a portion.
The curtain features the legend of the three twigs. Just before his death, Svatopluk
asked his sons to come to him and to bring twigs. He asked his sons to break a
single twig, which they did easily. He then bundled the sticks and asked them to
break the bundle, which was not possible.
“The moral of the story is, ‘Stay together and you’ll be strong. If you’re an individual,
you’ll be easily broken,’ “ said Chuck Hamernik, who serves as Clarkson’s mayor
and helps maintain the Opera House.
The brothers did not listen, fighting for control of the throne following Svatopluk’s
death. Their division lead to the fall of the Moravian Empire.
Top right: Hamernik lowers a curtain at the Opera House.
Bottom right: One of eight curtains at the Opera House awaiting restoration.
Below: A view of the Opera House from the balcony. A gymnastics class meets
there a few times a week.
The Opera House is open by appointment.
340 Pine St., Clarkson, Neb.
SPRING 2019 17
Customer Service Supervisor
Jon Blaser of rural Columbus joined Loup in 1999 as Accountant/Collector at the
Columbus General Office. He was promoted to Customer Service Supervisor in 2016.
As Customer Service Supervisor, Blaser’s responsibilities include supervision in the
areas of customer services, meter reading, and billing.
A graduate of Monroe High School, Blaser earned an Associate of Applied Science
Degree in Accounting from Lincoln School of Commerce.
Blaser and his wife, Gina, are the parents of three children — Jessica, Connor, and
Heavy Equipment Operator
Andy Schmidt joined Loup in
2009 as a Maintenance Man on
the Columbus Canal Crew. He was
promoted to Equipment Operator
in 2011 and was named Heavy
Equipment Operator in 2016.
As Heavy Equipment Operator,
Schmidt’s duties include canal
maintenance from Columbus to
Genoa. In addition to his work at
both the Columbus and Monroe
powerhouses, he runs the dragline
and operates the trash rake at
A native of Monroe, Schmidt is
a graduate of Monroe High School.
He and his wife, Stephanie, are the
parents of two daughters — Whitney
Michael Jones of Columbus
joined Loup in 2009 as Computer
Support Specialist at the Columbus
His duties include installing,
maintaining, and repairing
the computers, software, and
throughout the District.
Jones was born in Columbus
and grew up in the Rockford,
Illinois, area. He graduated from
Harlem High School in Loves Park,
Illinois and studied Information
Technology-Electronic at Central
Jones and his wife, Beth, are the
parents of three sons — Benjamin,
Steven, and David.
Columbus Plant Operator
Jeremy Moore of Columbus joined
Loup Power District as a Plant Operator
at the Columbus Powerhouse.
As a plant operator, Moore monitors
and controls the three generation units
at Columbus and remotely controls the
Monroe Powerhouse. He also works
closely with the Genoa Headworks to
divert maximum Loup River water into
the District canal system for power
Moore’s other duties include
coordinating generation with NPPD’s
control center in Doniphan and
monitoring Loup’s 115 kV and 34.5 kV
Moore is a graduate of Cedar Rapids
High School. He and his wife, Carri,
have three sons — Talon, Parker, and
Columbus Service Center Coordinator
Sheila Sup has been promoted to Columbus Service Center Coordinator.
She joined Loup Power District in 2012 as a Customer Service Representative at the Albion
Office and remained in that position until this promotion.
As the Service Center Coordinator, Sup handles communication among the personnel at
the Service Center including linemen and meter and maintenance, shop, and canal crews.
Her duties include taking service calls, receiving locate requests, sending irrigation load
control messages and handling dispatches. She also prepares work tickets, service orders,
Sup is a graduate of Boone Central High School. She attended the University of Nebraska-
Lincoln and earned a BA degree in Communication Studies.
Heesacker joins Loup Board
Steve Heesacker of Humphrey joined Loup Power District’s Board of
Directors in January.
Customer Service Rep
Natalie Sharman of Fullerton has
been promoted to a Full-Time Customer
She has worked for more than three
years as part-time CSR in the St. Edward
Office. With this promotion, she now
serves in both the Fullerton and Albion
As a Customer Service Representative
Sharman’s responsibilities include
greeting customers; processing
payments; setting up, transferring, or
closing service; taking service calls; and
Sharman is a native of Cambridge and
a graduate of Cambridge High School.
She studied business and marketing at
the University of Nebraska-Kearney.
Sharman and her husband, Les, are
the parents of two children, Braden and
Kinzie. They also own Shamz Auto Body
He represents Subdivision 3,
which includes portions of
Platte and Colfax Counties.
Heesacker farms in the
Humphrey area and also
owns a realty and auction
He decided to run for the
open seat after a phone call
with retiring board member
“After the nice conversation
with him and some serious
thought, I decided to file,”
After filing for the open seat,
Heesacker began attending
Loup’s board meetings to
learn more about the District.
“I found it very interesting
and got more excited about being on the board,” he said.
He is looking forward to the completion of the new Columbus Service
Center and the economic development in that area.
While he still has a lot to learn about Loup, Heesacker said he believes
in the public power model.
“I want to continue making the right decisions to provide affordable,
reliable electricity,” he said.
SPRING 2019 19
Ed Elm joined Loup in 1977 as a Maintenance Man at the Genoa Headworks. He was
promoted to Assistant Dredge Operator in 1979 and to Heavy Equipment Relief Operator in
In 1982, Elm transferred to Columbus and was promoted to Heavy Tractor Operator. His
title was changed to Equipment Operator in 1986 and he continued in that position until
As an Equipment Operator, Elm operated the District’s heavy equipment and was part
of the crew that performs maintenance on the canal system from Genoa to Columbus. He
also worked at the two powerhouses when needed, helped build substations, and took care
of District parks and lakes.
Elm is a graduate of Genoa High School and attended Central Community College–
Columbus. He and his wife, Christine, are the parents of three sons: Adam, Austin, and
Brandon Ramaekers joined Loup
Power District in 2014 as a Lineman
on the Columbus Line Crew at the
Columbus Service Center.
He was promoted to Journeyman
Lineman in 2016.
As a Journeyman Lineman,
Ramaekers is a member of the
line crew that is responsible for
the construction, operation, and
maintenance of Loup’s electrical
transmission and distribution system
in the Columbus Division.
A graduate of Norfolk Catholic
High School, Ramaekers earned an
Associate of Applied Science Degree
in Utility Line from Northeast
Community College in Norfolk.
Jesse Hoffmeister of St. Edward
joined Loup Power District as a
Maintenance Man at the Genoa
In his new position,
Hoffmeister is responsible for
maintaining the District’s parks,
facilities and equipment. He also
assists equipment operators and
serves as a dredge deck hand
during the dredging season at the
Hoffmeister is a graduate of St.
Edward High School. He and his
wife, Haylee, have two sons —
Mason and Ryker.
Customer Service Rep
Cindy Gasper of Columbus
joined Loup Power District as a
Customer Service Representative
at the Columbus General Office in
include greeting customers,
processing payments, setting up
and closing service, and answering
Gasper is a native of Humphrey.
She and her husband, Greg, have
four children: Lindsey, Levi,
Mikayla, and Michael.
Gasper has owned Party Palace
in Columbus for 21 years.
find the answers with
Our new online Energy Advisor energy calculator
is accessible from your computer or mobile device
The tool offers a detailed report of your energy use
including month-to-month comparisons, plus tips
for no-cost and low-cost home improvements to
help you stretch your energy dollars.
Follow the tips below to get started.
1: Take a quick survey
Visit www.loup.com and find the Home Energy
Advisor link under the “Save Money” menu.
Take a few minutes to tell us about your home. Is it
large or small? Well-insulated or under-insulated?
How many people are living there? What appliances
are drawing on electricity, and how is your
thermostat typically set?
instantly receive a
detailed breakdown of
the energy consumption
in your home.
2: Explore your energy use
Colorful charts and
graphs explain where your actual energy dollars are
going and how your usage has changed over time.
Discover opportunities for
All of the tips are
easy and cost little
or no money to
Best of all, Energy
Advisor will tell
you exactly how
much you could
3: Find easy ways to save
SPRING 2019 21
TREE PLANTING GUIDE
Trees that grow into or near power lines can
threaten the safety and reliability of your electric
service. They can cause sparks, fires, and power
This is especially true with storms that bring
lighting, wind or ice.
Before you plant trees, take a look around to see
how they will affect overhead utility lines as they
Planting tall-growing trees under utility lines will
require Loup personnel to prune them to maintain
Where you plant trees can also affect
temperatures in your home.
Deciduous trees on the south, east and west sides
of your home will provide cooling shade in the
They will lose their leaves in the winter, allowing
the sun to warm your home in the cooler months.
Evergreen trees and shrubs can also help you save
energy by slowing cold winter winds.
How tall will your tree grow? A good rule of
thumb is to plant it at least that far from the
10' 20' 30' 40' 50' 60' 70'
NO TREE ZONE
No trees within
25' of power lines
SMALL TREE ZONE
Plant trees less than 25'
at least 25' from
MEDIUM TREE ZONE
Plant trees 25'–40' in
height/spread at least
40' from overhead
LARGE TREE ZONE
Plant trees larger than
40' in height/spread at
least 60' from overhead
The Headworks crew took advantage of a beautiful
January day to lower the dredge discharge pipelines.
Employees raised the piplines over the years as sand
piled up. Preferred Sands removed much of the sand in
the area, prompting the need to lower them again.
Doing so prevents the swirling water from washing away
At left, Kenton Zimmer and John Fritzges work on one of
the pipelines. Pictured above are a pipeline that is being
lowered and one that is finished.
NEW BARREL PONTOONS
The barrell pontoons that hold the dredge’s floating
pipeline are aging and need to be replaced.
There aren’t any available locally, so the Headworks crew
is making their own.
At left, Bob Anderson grinds areas on the new pontoon
that need to be welded. There are 10 pontoons that need
to be replaced.
SPRING 2019 23
2404 15th Street | PO Box 988
Columbus, NE 68602-0988
Nebraska Army National Guard riggers, Staff Sgt.
William Cozad, Sgt. Luis Rocha, and Spc. Jacob Mason
inspect a Bobcat loader prior to sling load operations
at the Genoa Headworks on March 26.
The riggers were part of a team that prepared the
loader for air transport to the south side of the canal.
Nebraska National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Koan Nissen.