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Making way for the new

The old garage between D and E streets on Sixth Street had served its purpose for decades. It was long the home of telephone company lineman trucks. The building likely was built in 1922 when Lincoln Telephone and Telegraph put up a local facility at the corner of Sixth and E Streets. That building is the office of Dr. Brian Wessling’s dental practice.

But time had taken its toll on the old lineman’s garage, and  Butler County Senior Services needed a new home for its fleet of public transportation vehicles.

Last week the building came down in a heap, and soon, a larger garage will go up.

The Butler County Board of Supervisors worked through all the issues of building a larger building to house specially equipped vans that need a little more room.

The Nebraska Department of Transportation is funding 80 percent of the project, up to $200,000. Shelby Lumber Co. was awarded the bid to build the new garage for $177,000. Leo A Daly, the design firm for the Downtown Renovation Project, was hired to design the building.

Diana McDonald, manager of Butler County Senior Services, said the demolition of the old structure, and now its replacement, draw attention to the importance of the BCSS transportation program.

To put it simply, the program helps many people, especially senior citizens and those who have mobility challenges, to get where they need to go. Trips include going to the grocery store, going to the doctor or any other critical appointment.

“Our average boarding’s so far this year is 120 a week with 1100 miles,” McDonald said. “Our rates are $1.75 for a one way trip in David City and we have special rates for Columbus, Lincoln and Omaha.”

Handy bus services for years were perceived as only being there for elderly riders, but that is not the case.

“This is public transportation, so all ages are welcome. We also receive State and Federal funds for our public transportation program.”

Anyone who needs the services can pick up a brochure or call BCSS at 402-367-6131 if you would like us to mail out a brochure or for more details.

The new building may be completed by December.

BC Chamber presents The Dueling Pianos Show

The Butler County Chamber of Commerce is ready to celebrate in style on Nov. 3 with The Dueling Pianos Show and Dinner at the Butler County Events Center.

The Fun Pianos of Seward will be on hand to entertain the audience after a great meal catered by the Eagles Nest of Surprise.

Sam Ferguson of Seward, who started the Fun Pianos in 2004, said he has been looking forward to providing a show in David City.

He sums up the evening of like this:

“We bring joy. We go and play and people smile. It seems like there is less of that these days,” Ferguson said.

The dueling pianos concept started out in the 1930s in night clubs and a few decades later it was revived as more of a Rock n’ Roll show. Fun Pianos, Ferguson said, has several teams of players traveling the country, bringing the fun along.

“We added comedy. We as a company were the first to provide traveling across the country. There were a few local shows doing it,” he said.

“As the industry in general has gone to doing more songs and less sing along, we have maintained the classic show,” he said. “We have a lot of interaction and a lot of sing-a-long and comedy that came along in the 1980s.”

While the entertainers always have a show concept in mind, the audience is encouraged to make requests.

“The more we think we are going to do, the less it goes that way the audience has its own ideas,” Ferguson said.

The audience doesn’t have to worry about playing one of the pianos.

“You can’t just sit in and do this gig,” he said. “It’s about entertainment.”

Karla Wall, the director of the Butler County Chamber, said that tickets have been selling well but sales will continue until Oct. 30. Ferguson was pleased to hear about the acoustically designed ceiling and walls of the facility.

“We’ve had to move it to the big room because we’ve had such a big response,” Wall said.

Wall said that the public is invited to visit the chamber’s facebook page to find out about how to find “music notes” in local stores. The first person to find the note wins two tickets to the show.

If you go

The show is set for Friday, Nov. 3 at the Butler County Event Center. Social time begins at 6 p.m., dinner at 6:30 and the dueling pianos from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m.

Tickets are $45 for the show and the prime rib dinner. There will be a cash bar. Tickets can be purchased at the chamber office until Monday, Oct. 30. Call the chamber office at 402-367-4238.

Telephone service came to town 121 years ago

Editor's note: The old lineman’s garage on Sixth Street between D and E Street didn’t catch much interest from people before or even after it was torn down to make way for a much larger vehicle storage building. The building’s significance didn’t escape Jim Reisdorff, history columnist for The Banner-Press. Jim went to the books to find this reminder of how modern communications came to the Great Plains.

Information on the LT&T company in David City as compiled from the David City Centennial book from 1973 and the Butler County History Book from 1982:

The first telephone service in Butler County apparently began in August 1896, when a phone line was extended from York to David City. The phone office where everyone went to place or receive a call was initially located in the Gates Store and Bakery on the east side of the square.

The first record of a telephone company in David City was in 1897, when a franchise was obtained by Fred Scott to operate the Scott Telephone Company, with an initial 30 subscribers. Later, in about 1903, the Nebraska Telephone Company established long distance telephone service in David City.

Still another firm, the Surprise Telephone Company, built an exchange to David City in 1904, taking over the Scott phone company. After that, the Nebraska and Surprise companies competed for local and long distance phone service for a number of years.

Because there were two local phone companies, each subscriber had to have two telephones in his home or place of business in order to have complete service. The lines of the two companies did not interconnect and it was not possible to call a subscriber of the competing company from a telephone of the competing company.

In 1912, the Lincoln Telephone and Telegraph Company purchased the properties of the Nebraska company, which was then operating 468 telephones in David City. LT&T later purchased the properties of the Surprise Telephone Company in 1916, and the two companies were consolidated into one exchange a year later.

LT&T soon came to be the only phone service provider to the David City area. A new LT&T building was constructed on the southwest corner of 6th and E Streets in about 1922 to house the company’s local offices and a staff of up to 12 switchboard operators. For 24 hours a day, phone operators staffed a switchboard located on the second floor of the building in order to place both local and long distance phone calls for subscribers. LT&T’s offices were moved to a new facility located one block south on D Street in May 1958. The old phone building now serves as the dental office for Dr. Brian Wessling.

Dial phone service and direct distance dialing was installed in David City on Nov. 2 1958, replacing battery-powered telephones. Direct distance dialing for other phone exchanges in the county were provided at the same time.

As of 1973, LT&T was serving 180 communities at 135 exchanges in 22 southeastern Nebraska counties.