In February 1937, officers and directors of the Burt County Rural Public Power Company met in the Burt County Courthouse to sign a loan contract with the Rural Electrification Administration (REA) for $275,000.00 to build 263 miles of transmission lines. Bids for the construction of the lines would be advertised within weeks, and it was expected that nine months of construction would be required to finish the project. Still, as soon as sections of the electric line were built and farm homes were wired, the current would be turned on for their use. Power was obtained from the Elkhorn Valley Power Company in Scribner. More than 650 county farmers had signed contracts for power, and many others had expressed interest. In March, the REA approved the loan request and authorized work to begin within sixty days.
Bids for the project were opened on May 4, 1937. Nine companies offered bids for the construction of the proposed rural electric lines, including several from other states, including Kansas, Texas, Minnesota, Oklahoma and Iowa, with the lowest bids coming in at $211,000.00. The directors made a preliminary selection, pending the approval of the REA.
In April 1938, the REA held a celebration in Bertha, a small community in Burt County, to officially turn on the power to two districts. Before a crowd of 2,000, Governor Cochran threw the switch that turned on the electricity to these areas. The event featured WOW’s “man on the street” Foster May, who interviewed dignitaries, musical selections by the Bertha quartet and the Oakland High School Band. The basement of the Bertha Hall was filled with exhibits from electric appliance firms to demonstrate all the modern equipment that could be had for farms and farmhouses, including washing machines, irons and mangles, stoves, fans, radios and lamps.
Burt County Herald, 11 February 1937. Burt County Herald, 11 March 1937. Burt County Herald, 6 May 1937. Burt County Herald, 21 April 1938.
Project originally submitted by Jill Dolberg on July 24, 2015.
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