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Loup Power District celebrates 85th anniversary

October 6, 2018

Community members are invited to take a trip down memory lane with Loup Power District as the company celebrates its 85th anniversary from 2-3 p.m. on Sunday at Platte County Museum, 2916 16th St.

“Eighty-five years in a community is a special feeling,” said Neal Suess, president and CEO of Loup Power District, a public power electric utility serving four county areas in Nebraska. “We are excited to be in the community this long and have a presence in the community.”

Admission is free for Platte County Historical Society members and $3 for non-members.

Theresa Petr, a retired communications coordinator at Loup Power District, said the organization traditionally hosts anniversary celebrations every five years. During the 80th celebration, Petr, who was still an employee, remembered celebrating the company’s milestone at the Loup Power District Powerhouse at 4757 3rd Ave.

“Loup Power District still strives to provide affordable electricity and continues to support economic development,” said Petr, who is a history enthusiast and serves as a board member at the Platte County Museum.

Since its establishment in June 1933, Petr said the company introduced projects that impacted the lives of thousands living in Columbus and its surrounding areas. Petr has put together a presentation for Sunday showcasing the history of the Loup Canal project, which helped reverse the effects of the Great Depression-era.

“The event is to look at what was done … and what it has meant to the community,” Petr said.

During the Great Depression, Petr said former President Franklin D. Roosevelt started up several grant programs in an effort to help put people to work on a variety of projects. Some of these projects involved hydroelectric power.

She said Loup Power District received federal funding -- which was successfully paid off years later -- for its Loup Canal project that employed roughly 1,300 community members.

The Loup hydroelectric canal, which supplies power to Columbus, was built from west of Genoa to Columbus, connecting two powerhouses in Monroe and Columbus, as well as the Platte River.

Petr said area farmers were paid to allow the canal to pass through stretches of farmland, which helped the farmers financially during the Depression.

“What it means then, farmers got a good chunk of money,” she said. “It means that they could pay for their land.”

During the celebration, Petr said attendees have the opportunity to watch a motion picture of the canal as it was being built, in addition to sitting through a historical presentation. Petr said she hopes to start the conversation about the project.

“It always draws a really nice crowd and people just really like to talk about it,” she said.

Petr said there are existing area residents who worked for the Loup Canal project or were directly impacted by its effect. Petr said she hopes to have these people attend and share their experiences with others.

“I feel it’s important because it’s important to the people,” she said. “The residents of Columbus whether they have the experience firsthand … it was an important history of Columbus. People just like what it did for Columbus and talk about it.”

Natasya Ong is a reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach her via email at natasya.ong@lee.net.

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