Bake sales for bookshelves
Small Nebraska community pitches in to fund new library; installs an energy-efficient geothermal heating and cooling system using a Bobcat compact track loader.
Steve Dvorak, owner of Dvorak Well, uses a Bobcat T300 compact track loader with backhoe attachment to dig pits and trenches, necessary components for drilling wells and installing geothermal loop systems.
The project was officially launched in 2007 with a bake sale and a dream. Today, after more than five years of fundraising, planning and ongoing community support, the vision of a few dedicated residents (a.k.a. Friends of the Library) has become a reality. Construction of the new library building in the eastern Nebraska community of North Bend (pop. 1,200) is now complete. So it’s back to the books, searching the Internet, attending book readings and scheduling events to be held in the library’s spacious community room.
“There had been conversations about building a new library for years before a group of local women finally got the ball rolling,” says Jana Post, chairperson of the North Bend Library Foundation. “After completing a survey that showed great interest in updating our existing library facility, things took off. Not surprisingly, with all of the great cooks we have in the area, and this being a small, rural community, the first fundraising event was a bake sale.”
An initial assessment of the existing library building was initiated to confirm what most had suspected — the present structure (completed in 1913) would not be able to accommodate desired expansion plans. The current building lacked adequate meeting space, an inside area for children’s programs and the ability to provide access for all North Bend residents, especially the elderly and those with special needs.
Going greenThe committee selected a former high school grad, now an architect with an Omaha-based firm, to design their new library. Although the original plan specified a conventional heating and cooling system, the plans were later amended after concerns about utility expenses were levied by city officials. After a cost analysis that projected a savings of $2,000 per year in operation and maintenance expenses, the project committee deemed the geothermal system would be the most prudent approach.
Dvorak Well Inc., another locally based company, was selected to install the geothermal system. Specialists in well drilling and installing ground source geothermal loop systems, the company was founded in 2003 by Steve Dvorak, a North Bend native who had been involved in the well drilling business for several years before starting Dvorak Well.
Dvorak appreciates the maneuverability, versatility and reliability of his Bobcat T300 compact track loader that allows him to work in tight, confined spaces. A wide variety of attachments also extends versatility, allowing Dvorak to perform a variety of tasks more efficiently.
Enhanced productivityThe loop capacity required for the system designed to heat and cool the 7,100-plus-square-foot library building specified 16 6-inch diameter holes, extending approximately 300 feet deep, in order to accommodate the loops that circulate fluid to and from a heat pump. Yet underneath the dark fertile topsoil of this agricultural-rich community — lurking not far beneath — are layers of sand, shale and rock; conditions that presents challenges on nearly every drilling job Dvorak has completed in the area.
Dvorak is adamant in his belief that good equipment is the key to productivity, and relies on his Bobcat® T300 compact track loader to complete a wide array of tasks and chores on most every job he tackles. Dvorak especially likes the variety of attachments — bucket, pallet fork and backhoe — that extend the versatility of the loader, while reducing labor and enhancing productivity.
“For me, the compact track loader is indispensable on a jobsite,” Dvorak says. “We use it for so many things. We use the backhoe attachment to dig pits and trenches for the circulating fluids essential while we’re drilling. And the loader is much smaller and more compact than an excavator and allows us to get into much tighter places. It really has been a huge asset for me, especially for digging pits.”
Given that North Bend is located in the heart of the Platte River Valley, a region known for its plentiful underground irrigation and well water supply, the water table can often be quite high, especially during the spring months. The area is also a designated floodplain, so thousands of tons of soil were hauled in to raise the elevation of the library building as a precaution. While the increased elevation will likely serve as a prudent proactive flood prevention measure, the transformed mound-like site — raised nearly 10 feet as a result — created a mound that posed additional challenges for Dvorak during setup and periodically throughout the drilling phase.
“I continue to be amazed at how maneuverable the machine is, especially on elevated landscapes,” Dvorak says. “The track undercarriage is also a requirement because in the well-drilling business, especially in our area where we’re often in sandy, soggy and muddy conditions, we need a track loader that will plow through any conditions and not get stuck. We can have a heavy pallet of sand on the front end of the loader and it just picks it up and runs with it. I love it.”