Great Plains Communications Residential Blog

Keeping Your Family Connected

Author: GreatPlainsComm (page 2 of 62)

Wings Over the Platte – Congratulations, Abby Jensen!

We are excited to announce that Abby Jensen, Nebraska native and part of the Great Plains Communications family, has had four photography pieces chosen by The Stuhr Museum in Grand Island, NE as part of their ‘Wings Over the Platte’ show. Currently going on, and running until April 9th, ‘Wings Over the Platte’ is “Grand Island’s celebration of the return of the Sandhill Cranes every spring,” states their website. Along with Abby’s ‘Cradling the Moon’ piece being chosen for billboard advertising, she received two Awards of Merit for ‘Cradling the Moon’ and ‘Leading the Way’.

This celebration is not just for bird watchers, but for anyone who appreciates the beauty of the Sandhill Cranes and the Platte River. When visiting, you can find Abby’s artwork, as well as other pieces specific to the spring migration, at Stuhr Museum’s ‘Wings Over the Platte’ exhibit, Prairie Winds Art Center’s ‘Spirit of the Cranes’ exhibit, and in the gallery of the nature center.

Again, we want to congratulate Abby on the selection of her beautiful photography. All pieces are displayed below and will be for sale at the show.

Business Appreciation – Red Willow County Courthouse

Great Plains Communications is proud to highlight another one of our business customers, Red Willow County Courthouse in McCook, NE.

The process began in 2014, when Red Willow County Courthouse completed the construction of its new Law Enforcement Center and jail in McCook and was looking into updating its more than 25-year-old phone system. Explains McNutt, “We initially had someone put in a different phone system, but it worked poorly and caused lots of frustration. We then made the decision to put our project out for bids, and included not only the phone system but our other communications services as well.”

He continues, “We received several bids including one from Great Plains Communications. I met multiple times with Philip Jensen and others from Great Plains Communications, as did our Commissioners, Head of Maintenance and all department heads. Great Plains Communications clearly did their research to determine our needs. I liked their approach and their willingness to make sure our needs would be met. We gave our business to Great Plains Communications — phone, Internet and TV — and have been customers for about a year.”

Great Plains Communications Installs Fiber and More

Philip Jensen is Sales Manager of Business Accounts at Great Plains Communications. He notes, “The first thing we needed to do was install fiber optic cable to the Red Willow County Courthouse. We also utilized as much existing cable and wiring in the Courthouse and Sheriff’s Department as we could, combining it with the new fiber optic cable. This allowed greater flexibility for their communications services, and helped prepare Red Willow County Courthouse and other county buildings for many years to come.”

For phone services, the Business Solutions department of Great Plains Communications installed a Panasonic NS700 Hybrid analog and digital IP PBX. All of the Red Willow County Courthouse phone lines were combined into one PRI (Primary Rate Interface) connection, which saved money. PRI also allowed for Caller ID service to every phone in the Courthouse and Sheriff’s Department, which they previously did not have on all phones.

Two Internet access connections are set up — one for the Red Willow County Courthouse and one for the Sheriff’s Department. The Sheriff needed a separate connection and more bandwidth in order to efficiently upload and download footage from cameras and conduct training. Inside the Courthouse, Great Plains Communications combined all connections into one, therefore providing more bandwidth with only one connection to maintain.

Jensen recalls, “We installed the phone system on Presidents’ Day 2015, since the Courthouse was closed that day and installation could be done with minimal downtime. Our PBX person did training by phone for County employees before the phone conversion to get them up to speed. Technicians from Great Plains Communications also stuck around another week to make sure everything was working well.”

Better, Faster Connections

McNutt is pleased with the upgrades to their phone and Internet services. “Great Plains Communications connected our Law Enforcement Center and Jail to the Red Willow County Courthouse. For the sake of efficiency, we really wanted those two facilities tied together in our communications stream. We’re also benefitting from much faster Internet speeds and clearer sound quality with our phone calls,” McNutt says.

He adds, “It’s not just me. Everybody is so enthusiastic about the people from Great Plains Communications. They’ve bent over backwards to accommodate our needs. They get right on it if we have questions or issues, and if they don’t have the answers immediately, they’ll find out and get right back to me. I can’t say enough about how courteous and easy to work with they are. I also appreciate having one designated person at Great Plains Communications who takes care of our account, so there’s just one phone call to make. We’re out here in rural Nebraska, and we’re still getting advanced services and great customer support.”

Ready for the Future

What’s ahead for the Red Willow County Courthouse? McNutt replies, “We don’t have any major technology upgrades planned for 2017. However, we will be working on getting additional facilities tied into our network. And now that we have the infrastructure in place, we may look at using new applications such as video conferencing for the Courthouse.” Jensen sums it up this way: “Thanks to fiber, they’re pretty well ‘future proofed’ as far as communications.”

2017 Valentine’s Day Recipes

If you are looking to have a romantic Valentine’s Day at home, don’t assume that means you can’t have an amazing meal. Great Plains Communications has found some of our favorite Food Network recipes for you to enjoy with your loved one next week.


Red Velvet Heart Pancakes

If you are looking to get creative this Valentine’s Day, make these cute heart shaped red velvet pancakes for your loved one. They are not only beautiful to look at; it will be like you are starting your day off with dessert.


How to Make Holiday Beef Wellington

This Beef Wellington might look fancy, but it is surprisingly simple to assemble. The spinach and artichoke add an earthy flavor to the beef and the presentation is always a show stopper.


Champagne Jelly Flutes

This is a fun way to combine cocktails with dessert. By adding the gelatin, you will be able to enjoy a nostalgic texture with the adult flavor of champagne.

Countdown to Valentine’s Day with Hallmark Channel

Have you already started planning for the big day of love and romance? Maybe you are looking to make a beautiful home-cooked meal for the one you love, or maybe there is a restaurant that means something special to the two of you. No matter what your plans are or what gifts you purchase, love is something to celebrate and the Hallmark Channel is having a Countdown to Valentine’s Day marathon to do just that. Below we have included the upcoming schedule for the Hallmark Channel, including three World Premiere Original movies.


Tuesday, February 7

8/7c: All of My Heart


Wednesday, February 8

8/7c: Walking the Dog


Thursday, February 9

8/7c: Unleashing Mr. Darcy


Friday, February 10

8/7c: Love Locks – Hallmark Hall of Fame


Saturday, February 11

11a/10c: Valentine Ever After

1/12c: A Royal Winter

3/2c: The Wedding March

5/4c: Appetite for Love

7/6c: Walking the Dog

9/8c: A Dash of Love – World Premiere Original


Sunday, February 12

11a/10c: Love’s Complicated

1/12c: Walking the Dog

3/2c: All Things Valentine

5/4c: A Dash of Love

7/6c: Love Locks – HHOF

9/8c: While You Were Dating – World Premiere Original


Monday, February 13

8/7c: Walking the Dog


Tuesday, February 14

12/11c: Love Locks – Hallmark Hall of Fame

2/1c: While You Were Dating

4/3c: Walking the Dog

6/5c: A Dash of Love

8/7c: Love at First Glance – World Premiere Original


If you are not currently a Great Plains Communications cable customer and would like to learn about what we offer in your area, please call our Customer Response Center at 1-855-853-1483.

The Origin of Groundhog Day

Punxsutawney Phil did in fact see his shadow this morning, meaning six more weeks of winter. While Groundhog Day is one of the oddest traditions in the United States, most people don’t actually know where the whole idea started. Great Plains Communications looked to our cable channel, the History Channel for more on the origin of this bizarre holiday and we would like to share a few facts we found.

The idea originally stemmed from an ancient Christian tradition called Candlemas Day. History Channel describes Candlemas Day as a day when, “clergy would bless and distribute candles needed for winter,” with the candles, “representing how long and cold the winter would be”. From there, the Germans expanded on this idea and chose a hedgehog as a way of predicting the weather. Once German settlers made their way to America, they continued the tradition in Pennsylvania, but switching to the locally common groundhog rather than a hedgehog.

The first Groundhog Day celebration was on February 2, 1887 at Gobbler’s Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. It was created after a local newspaper editor, Clymer Freas, pitched the idea to a group of businessmen and groundhog hunters known as the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club. They found the area of Gobbler’s Knob where the inaugural groundhog has led to the Punxsutawney Phil we know today.

As the idea of a groundhog predicting weather picked up popularity, additional areas have adopted their own traditions of a local creature helping with the annual weather forecast. In Vermillion, Ohio, they have the wooly bear caterpillar, where if the insect has more orange than black coloring on its furry body, the coming winter will be mild. Places have also adopted their own local groundhog to make their predictions, such as General Beau Lee in Atlanta, GA, Sir Walter Wally in Raleigh, N.C., and Jimmy in Sun Prairie, WI.

Just as he saw his shadow this morning, Phil has seen his shadow 102 times in high contrast to the 17 times he has not. No matter if you are bundling up to get through the next six weeks of winter or celebrating the few more weeks for cooler temperatures, Great Plains Communications would like to wish everyone a wonderful Groundhogs Day.

Big Recipes for the Big Game

This Sunday, the New England Patriots take on the Atlanta Falcons at 5:30 PM CT on FOX. To go along with the big game, Great Plains Communications has found some big recipes to please all of your friends and family. From a 50-layer dip that you will need help to assemble, to a six-foot nacho spread, cable channel, Food Network brings you recipes not just about the amazing flavors, but also about making it an interactive experience for everyone involved.

50-Layer Dip


Super Submarine Sandwich


Six-Foot Nachos


We hope these recipes help your hungry game-day crowd enjoy not only the action on the television screen, but the interaction that comes from winning combination of good food and good friends.

If you are not currently a Great Plains Communications cable customer and would like to know what we offer in your area, please call our Customer Response Center at 1-855-853-1483.

Throwback Thursday – January 25, 1915 First Transcontinental Telephone Call

Left to Right: U.N. Bethell, Senior Vice-President American Telephone & Telegraph Co., presiding; Hon. George McAneny, President Board of Alderman, New York City; John J. Carty, Chief Engineer, American Telephone & Telegraph Co.; Alexander Graham Bell, John Purroy Mitchel, Mayor of New York; C.E. Yost, President of Nebraska Telephone Co., Omaha; Hon. William A. Prendergast, Comptroller of the City of New York

“Mr. Watson, come here. I want you,” Alexander Graham Bell repeated his famous statement from New York City into the telephone in front of him. “It will take me five days to get there now,” replied his assistant Dr. Watson, from his location in San Francisco. January 25, 1915 marked the date of the first transcontinental telephone call, initiating long distance transcontinental service.
As we can now pick up our mobile phones and call someone standing on the other side of the world, Great Plains Communications wanted to do a throwback to when a 3,400-mile call across the United States was an astonishing goal to accomplish. Please also notice in the caption, that C.E. Yost, President of the Nebraska Telephone Company was also present on this day in history.

How to Make Calls Over the Internet

We have all been there, when we accidentally drop our cell phone in a sink of water or on a hard surface that the case just can’t win against. Due to different circumstances, it can take days or weeks to come by a backup phone and being without access to a phone can be very inconvenient. Great Plains Communications wants to share a few of our favorite ways to make phone calls using the Internet!

In the instance of not having a working phone, using the following programs would allow you to either call computer to phone or computer to another computer.

Google Voice

Unlike other programs that require you to have an app, Google Voice allows users to make calls to actual phone numbers from their computer and it is free for calls within the United States and to Canada. Google Voice will give you a free phone number and also has SMS, conference call and voice mail services. Note that calls through Google Voice are limited to three hours, however you are not restricted from calling the number back after the time limit.


Poptox is another way to make free phone calls from your computer to mobile and landline phones. While calling mobile numbers in the United States are free, you can also call internationally for a small charge per call. All you do is simply go onto their website, dial the number you wish to call, and hit the call button.

IMPORTANT: These Internet calling programs can help you make calls; though they are not able to make 911 or similar emergency calls. If you need to call 911, you will need to use a land-line, mobile phone, or a VoIP telephone service that’s approved for 911 use.

While these programs are convenient when in a bind, the only way of getting a truly 100% reliable phone connection is through a corded phone plugged into a wall-mounted phone jack. If you would like the stability of always having a landline phone connection and would like to learn more about Great Plains Communications phone services, check out our website or call our Customer Response Center at 1-855-853-1483 today.

What are Programmer Fees?

Programmer fees and lengthy station negotiations have been showing up in the news more and more as the conversation on Cable TV providers being forced to raise rates to cover these costs continues. Great Plains Communications feels education is key in providing you with an explanation of what exactly programmer fees are and what they mean for Cable TV subscribers.

What are Programmer (Network) fees?

A significant portion of your Local TV bill is passed on to Cable network and broadcast station owners (networks, or programmers). Cable TV providers are under contract with programmers and charged a fee per channel, per month, per customer for the right to provide that station or network to their customers.

  • These fees have increased dramatically at 3½ times the rate of inflation over the last 16 years.
  • These fees apply to stations on your cable lineup and increase every year.

If I don’t even watch most of my channels, why do I still have to be responsible for all of these fees?

All Satellite and Cable TV providers pay each network owner (programmer) a fee for every household that receives a particular network – regardless of whether anyone in the household actually watches it. Rising programmer costs are a situation that all Cable TV providers must address on an annual basis.

Many customers would prefer to pay for only the most popular networks and a select group of quality, special-interest channels that appeal to them. This is something providers would like to offer, but most networks will not allow it. Unfortunately, the programmers often have the upper hand in how their networks are packaged.

For more information on network and programmer fees, go to our website at , or call our Customer Response Center at 1-855-853-1483.

Don’t Forget This When Preparing for Winter

Winter storm Jupiter spread a dangerous amount of ice across the Midwest the past few days and left many without power. Living in this area means beautiful seasons, but with them comes severe weather. While most people have a list of winter essentials, a landline telephone is often overlooked. You’re probably thinking, “Well I have a cell phone, why would I need a landline?” We don’t blame you. Cell phones are great on the go and bring some of the best technology right to your fingertips. What happens if your power is out for multiple days and your family has drained all the backup battery packs for your cell phones?

Great Plains Communications wants to shed some light on just a few of the advantages to having a landline telephone this winter.

  • Security in an emergency, with consistent reliable 911 connections designed to continue working during a power outage
  • No need for batteries or charging when using a corded phone
  • Elimination of potential faulty connection and dropped calls
  • Top-quality sound and clarity

Remember, if the power isn’t working in your home, your cordless phones have a limited lifespan. Keep your family safe this season and make sure you have a corded phone plugged into a wall-mounted phone jack. That way you can be sure to have a clear and reliable connection no matter what Old Man Winter throws our way. For more information on how you can get landline telephone service through Great Plains Communications, visit our website or call our Customer Response Center at 1-855-853-1483 and one of our representatives would love to get you set up today.

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