July/August 2015 Omaha Magazine

Page 1

July/August 2015

Brent La Rue

Ernest Hemingway meets James Dean meets Indiana Jones

Life in the Nebraska Sandhills

What a Tiny Town Can Teach About Living…and Loving

Special Sections

Omaha’s topDentists™ Best of Omaha™ Campaign 2016

707 N 189 Street, Omaha


Beautiful new floor plan w/lots of wood flooring on the main level. 3 story atrium to lower level. True 4 car heated garage. Master w/walk in shower and heated tile floor. 3 large bedrooms on 2nd floor - all have bath access and walk in closets. Sunroom overlooking #3 pond.

Rick Adcox • 402.676.7425

2023 S 214 Street, Omaha


Beautiful absolute custom home. 6 bedrooms, 6 baths, 1 1/2 story almost 3,000 sq ft on the main level. 3 fireplaces, screened-in porch, playroom on second floor, theater room in lower level. Lots of beautiful upgrades!

Roxanne Dooley • 402.319.9678

11451 S 123 Ave, Papillion


A quality designed Craftsman style front w/many architectural details. All bedrooms are “in suite”. The huge master suite features cozy sitting area w/ fireplace and “spa” like bath. This spacious home has numerous quality custom features-it really has it all! Pictures are of similar home not this home.

Susan Hancock • 402.215.7700

16572 Crestfield Dr, Omaha


Extraordinary 5 bedroom, 5 bath, 4 car 1.5 story executive home on lush 1.2 acre lot. Inlaid maple flooring, formal DR w/ arches and pillars, 3 walls of windows plus access to deck. Gourmet kitchen w/ custom cherry cabinetry, 2 pantries and Thermador gas stove.

Becky Tindall • 402.659.8888

1618 S 221 Circle, Elkhorn


Fabulous new plan in “The Prairies” by Echelon Homes. A completed model featured in the 2015 Spring Parade of Homes and is currently available! Featuring 5 bedrooms, 5 baths; plus a finished basement, complete with a bar and sunken pit for tiered TV seating.

1425 N 191 Ave, Elkhorn


Open plan, curved staircase, gourmet kitchen. Covered 15 x 12 deck w/metal railings. All bedrooms have access to own baths. Commercial appliance package. Stucco & stone front.

Bob Quartoroli • 402.680.0886

Joe Westerhaus • 402.951.5008

1414 S 194 Street, Omaha


1.5 story in Pacific Point with 6 bedroom, 5 bath. Soaring ceilings & open floor plan w/gourmet kitchen, 2 story great room with fireplace floor to ceiling, 2 laundry rooms, 5 secondary bedrooms are great size w/ loft on 2nd floor. Finished LL w/ family room and stunning wet bar.

Caniglia Team • 402.681.6733

19204 Sahler Street, Omaha


Fully loaded with builder upgrades! A fully equipped kitchen with double ovens. Sumptuous master suiteoffers a 10 ft tray ceiling and lavish master bath. Loaded with extras from-customized garage, stately den, outdoor living areas, dual HVAC, surround sound inside & out, central vac!

Kristen Wehner Jacobsen • 402.672.7701

18036 Poppleton Plaza, Omaha


BeauHful Whit Smith built ranch villa at Whispering Pines in The Ridges. One owner. Lots of architectural detail, spacious rooms, finished walk-‐out lower level with bar, second fireplace, and a walk-‐in temperature controlled wine storage room. Oversized garage!

John Kraemer • 402.689.2233

710 Key Circle, Carter Lake, IA


Lakefront home just 10 minutes from downtown Omaha! Only 2 years old with gourmet kitchen. 6 bedrooms, 4 baths, walkout, granite, hickory floors, tiled bathrooms, plantation shutters, large deck overlooking water, and the list goes on!

The Good Life Group • 402.612.3833

16811 Spring Plaza, Omaha


Custom built in 2012, this open concept ranch villa offers a main floor master and office or second bedroom! Walk out lower level, heated garage and covered deck. Chef’s kitchen with walk-‐in pantry, 1/2 main floor laundry. Gated community.

Dirk Blume • 402.672.0391

18629 Gold Circle, Omaha


BeauHful new 2 story home on a walkout lot built by VilloTa Homes. Open floor pan with 4 bedrooms, 4 bath, 4 car garage. All bedrooms have direct bath access and walk in closets. Pictures are of a already completed home with same floor plan.

Jeff Villotta • 402.598.4252


Retreat To


For over a century, thousands of families have visited Nebraska’s Fontenelle Forest and Neale Woods hiking, playing and exploring our trails, upland and lowland forests, native prairies, wetlands, and waterways. Each visit is its own unique adventure, its own story, its own memory to share. This summer, make it yours.


Friday, August 7th & Saturday, August 8th DAYS & TIMES th

August 7 , 5pm -11pm th August 8 , 3pm -11pm

COVENTRY CAMPUS Just South of 204th & Q St Hot Air Balloons Launch at 7pm Hot Air Balloons Glow at 9pm


Taste delicious foods & Enjoy live music Pony rides and fun for the kids VIP Food & Wine Experience at 6pm & 8pm • Carrabba’s Italian Grill on Friday • Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar on Saturday



As part of BNP Paribas Group, we’re a local bank backed by global insights.

• BNP Paribas Group has nearly 185,000 employees operating in 75 countries, and is a global leader in Wealth Management. • Our integrated, global perspective is designed to keep clients one step ahead of emerging trends. • We can adjust our investment strategies to current market conditions while remaining focused on your unique goals. Speak to a Private Client Advisor 1-877-898-1003 or visit bankofthewest.com/wm

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Securities and variable annuities are offered through BancWest Investment Services, a registered broker/dealer, Member FINRA/SIPC. Financial Advisors are Registered Representatives of BancWest Investment Services. Fixed annuities/insurance products are offered through BancWest Insurance Agency in California, (License #0C52321), through BancWest Insurance Agency in Utah and through BancWest Investment Services, Inc. in AZ, CO, IA, ID, KS, MN, MO, ND, NE, NM, NV, OK, OR, SD, WA, WI, WY, HI, GUAM and CNMI. Bank of the West and its various affiliates and subsidiaries are not tax or legal advisors. BancWest Investment Services is a wholly owned subsidiary of Bank of the West and a part of the Wealth Management Group. BancWest Corporation is the holding company for Bank of the West. BancWest Corporation is a wholly owned subsidiary of BNP Paribas. Investment and Insurance Products: NOT FDIC INSURED





A feast for all five senses Your table awaits at Ameristar Council Bluffs From mouthwatering steak and fall-off-the-bone barbecue to freshly prepared seafood, Ameristar Casino Hotel Council Bluffs sets the table for a meal you and your senses will never forget. Visit Ameristar.com or call 712.328.8888 for more information.

AMERISTAR CASINO HOTEL • 2200 River Road, Council Bluffs, IA 51501 • 712.328.8888 Must be at least 21 to enter casino. Terms subject to change. Gambling Problem? Call 1-800-BETS OFF. ©2015 Pinnacle Entertainment, Inc. All rights reserved.



June 12 ThE ConfidEntials June 26 Matt Cox Band and BEllEs & WhiStlEs July 10 LEE BowEs and Matt WhipkEy July 24 PraiRI E Gators Band and ThE Pink Fla mIN gos Aug 7 Maha Music FEStival ShowcasE Aug 21 EckoPhon iC Sep 4 Down to HErE Sep 18 HEctor anChoNdO BaN D and Clark & com pany

6pm@ Bob Kerrey Bridge

live music • local bAnds

fami ly Entertainment • outdoor fun



omaha magazine • july/august 2015
























All Ages Permitted. Tickets and the full lineup available at Stircove.com or by phone at 1-800-745-3000.

Schedule and artist subject to change. Must be 21 or older to gamble. Know When To Stop Before You Start.® Gambling Problem? Call 1-800-BETS-OFF (In Iowa) or 1-800-522-4700 (National). ©2015, Caesars License Company, LLC.

omaha magazine • july/august 2015



Life in the Nebraska Sandhills What a Tiny Town Can Teach About Living…and Loving PAGE 118

13 Hours in Benghazi Former Army Ranger Kris Paronto PAGE 174

Nebraska’s Most Controversial Woman Jane Kleeb and Bold Nebraska Battle the Black Snake Pipeline PAGE 140 10

omaha magazine • july/august 2015

table of contents  •  july/august 2015


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omaha magazine • july/august 2015



table of contents  •  volume 32  •  issue 3


172 30

178 32

the usual suspects 28

15 Editor’s Letter

60 PLus In Omaha

17 Between the Lines


18 For Starters

28 Faces

21 Calendar of Events 34 Not Funny

My Daily Wake

117 History

Potter Field

171 Obviously Omaha 195 Instagram - Be Social 197 Explore 202 The Closer

That Darn Ernie Chambers!

omaha magazine visitors edition

35-170 These pages are

not included in the visitors edition of Omaha Magazine. Articles online at OmahaMagazine.com. Purchase a subscription at OmahaMagazine. com/subscribe.


omaha magazine • july/august 2015

Omaha Home

Dr. Eric Elnes Countryside Community Church

Special Sections

45 Best of Omaha Campaign 2016

128 Sports

60 topDentists™ community

126 Style Shot

37 Giving Feature

132 Faces

40 Giving

136 Faces

42 Giving Calendar

Rowing Thrives in Omaha Jacki and Anastasia Lasley The Clothier’s Daughter Brent La Rue Beekeeper Gary Kula

172 Gen O

Jocelyn and Deven Muhammad


Boys Town’s Chris and Lori Mathsen The Bike Union

of Events


176 Chef Profile

Steve Villamonte Omaha Press Club

30 Spoken Word

178 Mystery Review

32 Social Justice

182 Dining Guide

Michelle Troxclair Multimedia Artist Tim Guthrie

Salt 88

194 Omaha happy hours

65 147

volume 32  •

tickets on sale now

tickets on sale Aug. 9

Sister is back and class is in session!

A fast-paced dark comedy.

issue 3




JUNE 12 – JULY 19

By Vicki Quade and Maripat Donovan entertainmentevents.com

AUG. 14–SEPT. 13 By Theresa Rebeck


6915 CASS STREET | (402) 553-0800 | WWW.OMAHAPLAYHOUSE.COM sponsor:

media sponsor:




EVENT DIRECTOR ERIN COX ACCOUNTANT HOLLEY GARCIA-CRUZ DISTRIBUTION MANAGER MIKE BREWER FOR ADVERTISING & SUBSCRIPTION INFORMATION: 402.884.2000 All versions of Omaha Magazine are published bimonthly by Omaha Magazine, LTD, P.O. Box 461208, Omaha NE 68046-1208. Telephone: (402) 884-2000; fax (402) 884-2001. Subscription rates: $19.95 for 6 issues (one year), $24.95 for 12 issues (two years). No whole or part of the contents herein may be reproduced without prior written permission of Omaha Magazine, excepting individually copyrighted articles and photographs. Unsolicited manuscripts are accepted, however no responsibility will be assumed for such solicitations. Best of Omaha®™ is a registered tradename of Omaha Magazine.

Whether it is day or night, inside or out, Joslyn has so much to offer. FREE GENERAL ADMISSION

(paid ticketed admission for some exhibitions)

THURSDAYS: Open ‘til 8 pm! SCULPTURE GARDENS Open and free – all day every day!





Joslyn Art Museum features works from antiquity to the present with an emphasis on 19th- and 20th-century European and American art. A fun, educational, relaxing, and artful destination for the whole family.

Open Tuesday through Sunday.

Special Exhibitions on view through October 11 • Art Seen: A Juried Exhibition of Artists from Omaha to Lincoln (ticketed) • Kon Trubkovich 2200 Dodge St. | Omaha, NE | (402) 342-3300 | www.joslyn.org omaha magazine • july/august 2015


Expanded Content On Your Digital Device Watch videos, and view photo galleries of select editorial from Omaha Magazine.


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3 Scan the page Load the LayAR app on your digital device. Hold your phone/table over the entire page to load content.


by david williams

On the Road



very once in a great while, a

magazine needs to pack its bags and hit the road. There’s nothing quite like a long, Kerouac-style quest of self discovery to shake up the creative juices. But our road trip wasn’t nearly so aimless as the jazz-fueled wanderings of the Beat Generation icon who would later chronicle his boozy crisscrossing of a continent in On the Road. No, four members of our team were on a mission when they headed down to the Sooner State to attend the Great Plains Journalism Awards hosted by the Tulsa Press Club. The awards annually recognize the best newspaper and magazine journalism in an eight-state region comprising Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and South Dakota. Omaha Magazine won the top award in the Magazine Cover category for the January/ February 2014 Best of Omaha issue executed by Creative Director John Gawley, then-Junior Graphic Designer Paul Lukes, and Ben Lueders of Fruitful Design.

We received two of the three finalist slots in the Magazine Cover category. Gawley and Director of Photography Bill Sitzmann were nominated for our November/December 2014 cover featuring local radio legend Otis XII in a story written by managing editor Robert Nelson. Nelson himself was a finalist in the Magazine Profile Writing category for his July/August 2014 cover story on then-Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and again in the Magazine Column Writing category for his September/October 2014 The Closer column titled “Slogan Explosion.” Sitzmann was recognized for his portrait of Jeff Toma accompanying the story “The Handyman Diaries” in the January/February 2014 issue of Omaha Home. That story was written by myself. Mike Lang and Corey Hart of Spectral Chemist were recognized for their video supporting our September/October 2014 story “Cricket: The Grandfather of Baseball is Making a Comeback in Omaha,”



@omahamagazine @omahamagazine

written by Robyn Murray. But no sooner did Nelson unpack his bags back here in Omaha than we learned that he would be packing them again. It is with sadness that we announce he has relocated to the Washington, D.C. suburbs. Publications under his tutelage here have thrived with his leadership. You know him as a skilled editor and an award-winning writer. We just know him as Bob, a great mentor, trusted confidant, and, most of all, a fine friend. The yin and yang of such life transitions is that we also get to celebrate the addition to our staff of associate editor Daisy HutzellRodman. Like Bob, Daisy is an Omaha World-Herald veteran who’ll bring great talents to this and our various other titles.  OMAG Comments? Send your thoughts to: david@omahamagazine.com. Owned and managed by Omaha Magazine, LTD

It was a no-brainer when it came to which artist to approach for typography on this issue’s cover. Justin Kemerling, whose branding, graphic design, web design, and art direction practice revolves around progressive activism, is a longtime supporter of Bold Nebraska. omaha magazine • july/august 2015



march of dimes & omaha magazine


Proudly Presented by

March of Dimes/Omaha Magazine 2015 Nurse of the Year Awards NOMINATION DEADLINE IS MIDNIGHT, August 24 2015 NOMINATE YOUR FAVORITE NURSE TODAY!


arch of Dimes and Omaha Magazine are proud to come together in pre-

senting the 2015 Nurse of the Year Awards. This exciting partnership will honor nursing professionals for their extraordinary contributions to patients, families, the nursing profession, and the community throughout Nebraska and Southwest Iowa. • To nominate a nurse, go to www.marchofdimes.org/nebraska. • Anyone may nominate a nurse in Nebraska or Southwest Iowa, including patients, family and community members, and health care professionals or administrators. • Nominate as many nurses as you like from all corners of the profession. • Submissions will be judged by a select panel of health care veterans. Then get ready to celebrate along with all the nominees and winners on November 12, 2015 at the March of Dimes/Omaha Magazine 2015 Nurse of the Year Awards ceremony at the Hilton Omaha. Look for profiles on the winners and a list of the complete slate of nominees in the January/ February 2016 issue of Omaha Magazine.  OMAG

Vote for Your Favorite Nurse Today!  16

omaha magazine • july/august 2015





A look at four Omaha Magazine team members

associate editor

graphic design intern

Daisy Hutzell-Rodman studied journalism at the University of Iowa. She spent the last decade at the Omaha World-Herald, where her responsibilities included writing for the paper’s many special sections and its Wedding Essentials magazine. She loves writing community features that inform people about their friends and neighbors, which is why she enjoyed freelancing for the Glenwood Opinion-Tribune and Destra Magazine. Daisy also writes fiction and spends time every summer at the University of Iowa Summer Writing Festival. Previous classes included Poses and Prose, a weekend of writing and yoga. This year she is excited to spend a week at a course titled Things that Go Bump in the Night, which she hopes will finally help her bring a novel out of her head and onto paper. When she isn’t writing or reading, Daisy travels the tie-dye circuit to music festivals and Volkswagen campouts/rallies with her husband in their 1963 Microbus.

Malinda Ratcliff, a talented graphic designer at the onset of her career, is enthusiastic about contributing to Omaha Magazine. She has always had a passion for art, particularly oil painting. Whether working on a computer screen or adorning a canvas in the medium of the Old Masters, Malinda is forever driven to communicate and is rarely content if she is not creating. After kickin’ it for a couple years in Phoenix, this once-perennial student returned to her hometown and graduated (finally) from the University of NebraskaOmaha. When not designing or painting, she and her fiancée can most likely be found on the business end of leashes struggling to control Freddie (a Lab) and Archer (a German Shepherd) on strolls through their Dundee neighborhood. We’ll forgive Malinda if she is, at times, just a bit distracted. After all, she’s deep into planning an August wedding. Photo by Melanie Smith.

editorial intern

freelance writer

Halle Mason, born and raised in the Cornhusker State, graduated from Elkhorn South High School in 2014. After graduation, she ventured north to the Land of 10,000 Lakes to attend the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn. Though she’s no stranger to writing, Omaha Magazine is her first venture into the world of publishing. An English major and hopeless romantic, Halle’s ideal night consists of snuggling up with a thick Jane Austen novel and a steaming cup of hot cocoa (extra whip, of course). On the weekends, you can find Halle getting her headstand on in a yoga class or scouring the city for estate sales, feeding her addiction to retro lamps.

Tom McCauley is a writer, musician, comedian, and grants manager for the Nebraska Arts Council. Years ago, he wrote for the Mayor’s Office and hosted a failed internet talk show for local ad agency Phenomblue. He’s published in various places, grew up along the federal poverty line, and played guitar for The Answer Team. Now, with photographer Sam Herron, he’s writing Street Life Fragments, a book on homelessness in Omaha. Watch his halting, absurdist, unapologetically P.C. comedy Monday nights at Farnam House. Buy him another sky-blue typewriter if you see one—his is sort of broken, unlike his pioneer spirit. omaha magazine • july/august 2015



this is omaha for starters



It’s not Woodstock—it’s more of a performing arts crawl. The Omaha Under the Radar festival is four days of performances and events that bring together actors, musicians, and dancers from New York to San Francisco, as well as local artists, to present original work and recent masterpieces of contemporary classical music, free jazz, modern dance, performance art, and experimental theatre. Also performing will be participants of SOUNDRY, a camp on experimental music for students age 12 to 16 held in conjunction with the festival. The festival consists of 12 events, each taking place at one of five locations—KANEKO, Joslyn Art Museum, Sokol Auditorium, Bancroft Street Market, and the W. Dale Clark library. No need to wear your opera cape to these performances, the festival provides a laid-back atmosphere for audiences. With more than 80 artists participating, creativity and energy will abound. Tickets are available for the entire week or single performances. Free events will also be held throughout the week. Tickets $ 30 for the full festival or $10 for single performances. undertheradaromaha.com

Jazz On the green midtown crossing at turner Park july 9-August 13 • 6:30 p.m.

Grab the family and prepare to listen to some great performances when Jazz on the Green returns to Omaha this summer. This is a free concert series at Turner Park running every Thursday from July 9 to August 13. The green opens to the public for seating at 5 p.m., preshow entertainment begins at 6:30 (except August 6, no pre-show that night) and the headlining performance starts at 7:30 p.m. This year’s lineup includes the New-Orleans-based Stooges Brass Band, with pre-show music BluesEd on July 9; Puerto Rican/AfroCaribbean artists Plena Libre performs July 16, with pre-show Latin dance lessons led by Omaha Ballroom; veteran backup artists The Side Guys with BluesEd on July 23; big-band oriented Nebraska Jazz Orchestra performs on July 30 with pre-show swing dance lessons available; soul/funk performers Sonny Knight and the Lakers on August 6; and the season ends with blues/soul/funk singer Mia Borders (pictured) with opening acts BluesEd band and Silver Lining Band. Pack a picnic or eat at one of Midtown Crossing’s many restaurants. Come prepared to kick off your shoes and relax during the heat of the summer with one of Omaha’s favorite entertainments. Midtown Crossing at Turner Park N. 31st Ave. between Dodge and Farnam Sts. Free jazzonthegreenomaha.com


omaha magazine • july/august 2015


this is omaha for starters


Alabama Shakes Stir Concert Cove August 1 • 8 p.m.

This veteran music festival band will bring their unique sound to Council Bluffs for one night. The band’s summer tour lineup includes favorite festivals such as Coachella and Bonnaroo. Their songs range in sound from blues to psychedelic rock to garage-band/alternative rock. Much of the power behind this band’s sound comes from lead singer and guitarist Brittany Howard, whose vocals can make a person feel pain or pleasure with one note, yet the other artists in the band—guitarist Heath Fogg, bassist Zac Cockrell, drummer Steve Johnson, and keyboardists Ben Tanner and Paul Horton—combine with Howard to create soul-jolting music. Billboard named their new single, “Don’t Wanna Fight,” one of the best singles of the year upon its release in February. The Alabama Shakes 2012 debut album, Boys & Girls, won much critical acclaim, including the Grammy nomination for Best New Artist. The album charted in the top 10 in both the U.S. and the United Kingdom and the single “Hold On,” was voted the number one Best Song of 2012 by Rolling Stone. Stir Concert Cove One Harrahs Boulevard, Council Bluffs Tickets starting at $ 50.25 ticketmaster.com

Omaha Crush Stinson Park at Aksarben Village August 1 • 1-5 p.m.

Uncork the fun. Sample wines and enjoy culinary delights from Omaha’s finest chefs, all while feasting your eyes on artwork from local artisans. All tickets are all-inclusive, with unlimited samples of wine and small bites from some of Omaha’s top eateries, including The Grey Plume, Lot 2, Heritage Food & Wine, Le Voltaire, Kitchen Table, V Mertz, Taita, Localmotive Food Truck, Railcar Modern American Kitchen, 7M Grill, Ika Ramen & Izakaya, and J’s on Jackson. The small bites will be paired with wines from all over the world. Wineries include 2 Twenty Imports, Adelsheim, Chasewater, CraiveroUSA, Don Sebastiani & Sons, Fourth Estate, Rabble Wine Co, The Sorting Table, The Wine Group, Union Wine Co, Vias Imports, Vine Street Imports, and Wilson Creek Winery. Attending wineries from Nebraska include Moonstruck Meadery and seven members of the Southeast Nebraska Winery Trail: Deer Springs, Glacial Till Winery, James Arthur Vineyards, SchillingBridge Winery, Soaring Wings Vineyard, Whiskey Run Creek Winery, and WunderRosa Winery. This is an over 21 event sponsored by Spirit World. Attendance benefits Tablets 4 Hope. Stinson Park @Aksarben Village 67th and Center Sts. All inclusive tickets are $ 60 in advance. Designated driver tickets are $ 35. omahacrush.com

omaha magazine • july/august 2015


A New tr adition Built on strong

family values and service to country

free tastings

12251 Cary Cir.


omaha magazine • july/august 2015

. La Vista . 402.690.3490 . soldiervalleyspirits.com A short drive from downtown Omaha


july/august 2015

CALENDAR OF EVENTS ART AND MUSEUM EXHIBITS Sarah Timberlake: New Abstr acts  Through July 11, Gallery 72—1806 Vinton St. Timberlake’s use of colors and line structures produce fascinating abstract mixed-media works on paper. 5-9pm. 402-496-4797 - gallery72.com John Dennison: Hot New Ceramic Works  Through July 18, Gallery 72—1806 Vinton St. John Dennison’s ceramic works include highly intriguing artistic ceramic masks and wall hangings and his very beautiful functional cups, bowls, and plates. 5-9pm. 402-496-4797 - gallery72.com

JOURNEY OF MEMORY: ALLEN SAY Journey of Memory: Allen Say  Through August 9, Joslyn Art Museum—2200 Dodge St. This exhibition explores the technical mastery and thematic complexity of the prolific artist and children’s book author Allen Say, winner of the Caldecott Medal for Grandfather’s Journey. An Omaha Sister City 50th Anniversary event. Free admission. 402-342-3300 - joslyn.org

MICHELLE DAISLEY MOFFITT & RON QUICK EXHIBITS Michelle Daisley Moffitt & Ron Quick Exhibits  Through July 24, Fred Simon Gallery—1004 Farnam St. Painter Michelle Daisley Moffitt and photographer Ron Quick exhibit their latest works. 8-5pm. Free. 402-595-2122 - nebraskaartscouncil.org Paintings & Photography Through July 26, Artists’ Cooperative Gallery Ltd.—405 S. 11th St. View work by painters Hope Dendinger and Richard Markoff, and photographer Alan R. Smith. Closed Mondays. Free admission. 402-342-9617 - artistscoopomaha.com

Lost Egypt: Ancient Secrets, Modern Science  Through September 6, Durham Museum— 801 S. 10th St. Step into the world of archaeologists, Egyptologists and other researchers through multiple hands-on elements, immersive storytelling, and real mummies and artifacts. The exhibition challenges visitors to apply numerous methods to unveil hidden mysteries within the display. Children free, Adults $9. 402-444-5071 - durhammuseum.org A CALL TO RESPOND  Through September 19, Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts—724 S. 12th St. A Call to Respond is a five-month series that takes audience interaction and collaboration as its focus, and aims to generate meaningful dialogue about collective action and creative placemaking. From performances to installations to meetups, this multidisciplinary series involves a variety of artists from the Omaha Metro area. 11am-5pm. Free. 402-341-7130 - bemiscenter.org

ART SEEN: A JURIED EXHIBITION OF ARTISTS FROM OMAHA TO LINCOLN  Through October 11, Joslyn Art Museum—2200 Dodge St. Art Seen: A Juried Exhibition of Artists from Omaha to Lincoln will showcase artists living and working in the region today. Nebraska’s two largest cities are home to vibrant and expansive artistic communities, spurred forward by an engaged and enthusiastic audience. Reflecting diverse lives and concerns, this exhibition investigates a range of media and styles and will address varied themes, including personal narrative, the social landscape, environmental issues, and contemporary approaches to painting. A total of 37 artists are featured in the exhibition, selected by a jury led by Karin Campbell, Joslyn Art Museum’s Phil Willson Curator of Contemporary Art; and Bill Arning, director of the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston. This exhibition has a ticket fee. Free for members, youth ages 17 and younger, and college students with ID. 402-342-3300 - joslyn.org Kon Trubkovich  Through October 11, Joslyn Art Museum—2200 Dodge St. Working across media, Kon Trubkovich reflects on the nature of memory and personal history. A Russian immigrant who relocated to the United States as a boy, Trubkovich is interested in the notion of the disconnections – from places, people, and experiences – that occur throughout life. A Riley CAP Gallery exhibition. 402-342-3300 - joslyn.org

omaha magazine • july/august 2015


by comparison

Produced by The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis


SEPT 6 Produced by The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis in cooperation with LEGO Systems, Inc. LEGO and the LEGO logo are trademarks of the LEGO Group. © 2015 The LEGO Group. All rights reserved.


omaha magazine • july/august 2015


july/august 2015

CALENDAR OF EVENTS Station to Station: The Burlington and KETV Exhibit  Through October 24, Durham Museum—801 S. 10th St. The Burlington Station opened in 1898. After sitting empty, the building will have a new lease on life through the entrepreneurial spirit of one of Omaha’s premier news organizations, KETV. Tickets $9 for adults, $6 for children. 402-444-5071 - durhammuseum.org MAIZ  Through October 30, 2015, El Museo Latino— 4701 S. 25th St. Maíz was developed and organized in collaboration with the Museo de Filatelia in Oaxaca, Mexico and El Museo Latino in Omaha. Maíz features works by 24 artists from Oaxaca and Omaha. Opening reception is May 5, 5-7pm. 402-731-1137 - elmuseolatino.org Batter Up! Baseball of the 1950s Exhibit  Through November 1, Boys Town Visitor Center—137th and W. Dodge Sts. Experience an era gone by through a collection of baseball cards featuring stars from the 1950s including Hank Aaron, Yogi Berra, Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle, Sandy Koufax, and many more. Recurring daily. Free admission. 402-498-1141 - boystown.org

Wild, Wild West Day July 25, Durham Museum—801 S. 10th St. Enjoy a rootin’ tootin’ good time with activities galore. Witness old-fashioned gun fights, learn about famous cowboys as portrayed by Wild West Creations reenactors, and more. 10am-5pm. Tickets $9 for adults, $6 for children. 402-444-5071 - durhammuseum.org Paul Otero August 10-September 18, Fred Simon Gallery—1004 Farnam St. Nebraska artist Paul Otero displays his latest series of photo-realistic drawings. 8-5pm. Free. 402-595-2142. - nebraskaartscouncil.org My Friend Eric Rohmann  August 29-January 3, 2016, Joslyn Art Museum—2200 Dodge St. Paintings, drawings, and prints from 12 picture books­­­—including Eric Rohmann’s Caldecott Medal winner My Friend Rabbit and Caldecott Honor book Time Flies­— comprise this Mind’s Eye Gallery exhibition. 402-342-3300. - joslyn.org

Monday Night at the Movies Midtown Crossing—3333 Farnam St. Movies, all rated PG or PG 13, are shown on the lawn at Turner Park, starting at dusk. Free admission. 402-598-9676 - MidtownCrossing.com Bridge Beats  Fridays July 10 and 24, Aug. 7 and 21, Bob Kerrey Bridge—downtown Omaha. Music begins at 6 pm Free admission. 402-444-4640 - bridgebeats.com Jazz on the Green  July 9-August 13, Midtown Crossing—3333 Farnam St. Omaha Performing Arts will again present Jazz on the Green. The lawn opens at 5pm. 2015 lineup to be announced soon. 7:30pm. Free admission. 402-345-0606 - jazzonthegreenomaha.com AWOLN AT ION  July 26, Sokol Underground—2234 S. 13th St. Doors open at 7pm. 8pm show. $26-$100. 402-346-9802 - sokolunderground.com

Union Station: Built to L ast Exhibit  Through January 3, 2016, Durham Museum—801 S. 10th St. Take a look back at what makes Union Station unique. Every facet from the imposing terra-cotta exterior to the yummiest of treats in the soda fountain will be explored in this interactive exhibit featuring artifacts, images, and hands-on components. Children free, Adults $9. 402-444-5071 - durhammuseum.org This May Hurt A Bit: Medicine in Old Omaha Exhibit  Through February 16, 2016, Durham Museum—801 S. 10th St. This exhibit takes visitors to just after Omaha’s founding and the colorful world of medicine that early settlers encountered. Recurring daily. Tickets $9 for adults, $6 for children. 402-444-5071 - durhammuseum.org Gangsters and Tunnels: Douglas County and Prohibition Exhibit  Through April 19, 2016, General Crook House Museum—5730 N. 30th St 11b. The Douglas County Historical Society takes a look at the history of prohibition in Omaha with an exhibit– the Temperance movement, the distillers, the bootleggers, and the gangsters. $6 suggested donation. 402-455-9990 - douglascohistory.org

NICKELBACK CONCERTS  Rockbrook Village Friday Night Summer Concerts  July 3-August 28, Rockbrook Village, 108th and Q Streets. The concert series continues each Friday night. Musicians will perform on the outdoor plaza, and visitors can shop or eat while listening to music. All of the shopping center’s restaurants offer take-out during the event. Independence Day Celebration: NewSong & Chris August with Michael Joiner  July 4, Ralston Arena—7300 Q St. 100.7 The Fish is proud to present this concert featuring NewSong, Chris August, and special guest Michael Joiner. 6-9:30pm. $10-$45. 402-934-9966  ralstonarena.com

Nickelback  July 28, CenturyLink Center Omaha – 455 N. 10th St. Tickets from the originally-scheduled March 5 show will be honored at this show. The group’s worldwide sales exceed 50 million units, solidifying their status as the “eleventh best-selling music act.” With special guests Pretty Reckless. 8pm. $25-$80. 402-341-1500 - centurylinkcenteromaha.com John Mellencamp  August 2, Orpheum Theater–409 S. 16th St. Grammy-winning Rock & Roll Hall of Famer John Mellencamp, “The Voice of the Heartland,” will bring his tour to Omaha to perform stunningly elegant and soul-searching gems from his new record “Plain Spoken.” 7:30pm. $42-$118. 402-345-0606 - ticketomaha.com omaha magazine • july/august 2015



july/august 2015

CALENDAR OF Lord Huron August 3 at Slowdown—729 N. 14th St. In 2014, trail-weary but intrepid, Lord Huron set up camp deep in Los Angeles at Whispering Pines Studios to notch their latest songs and abet the journeys of others. 9pm. $20. 402-345-7569 - theslowdown.com Maha Music Festival August 15, Aksarben Village—67th and Center Sts. 2015 lineup: Indie rock band Modest Mouse, hip-hop duo Atmosphere, alt-country group The Jayhawks, dream pop band Alvvays, and Ex Hex, Speedy Ortiz and The Good Life, All Young Girls Are Machine Guns, Freakabout, and BOTH. Tickets $50. Noon-Midnight. 402-496-1616 - mahamusicfestival.com

Live bands include a mix of jazz, blues, classic rock, country, and funk. Various merchant prizes, free face painting, balloon art and other giveaways for kids. Outdoor seating is available. 6:30-8:30pm. Free. 402-537-0046 - shadowlakeshopping.com Rockbrook Village Friday Concerts  Through August 28, Rockbrook Village Shopping Center—108th and W. Center Road. Local musicians will entertain families every Friday night this summer. Bring family, friends, and a lawn chair for a delightful evening. Dine and shop in Rockbrook Village before the concert. 7-8pm. Free. 402-390-0890 - rockbrookvillage.com


Lady Antebellum: Wheels Up 2015 Tour with Hunter Hayes & Sam Hunt  August 20, CenturyLink Center Omaha – 455 N. 10th St. After hitting the road in Europe, Lady Antebellum hits the United States leg of their tour. Don’t miss the award-winning trio in Omaha. 402-341-1500 - centurylinkcenteromaha.com Brit Floyd – The Pink Floyd Show  August 23, Orpheum Theater– 409 S. 16th St. “Brit Floyd - The World’s Greatest Pink Floyd Show,” returns to North America in 2015 to launch its Space and Time World Tour 2015, their most ambitious show to date; with a spectacular new light show, an even bigger stage production and more than 100 concerts planned throughout the United States and Canada between March and August 2015. 7:30pm. $39-$49. 402-345-0606 - ticketomaha.com S o u n ds o f S u m m e r C o n c e rt Series  Through August 21 (every Friday), Shadow Towne Lake Center—7775 Olson Dr., Papillion.


omaha magazine • july/august 2015

FAMILY & MORE Fairytale Land  Through August 9, Omaha Children’s Museum—500 S. 20th St. The museum princesses are back in an enchanting exhibit. Enjoy sing-alongs, dancing knights, and acting out old fairytales. In this wonderful world where books and stories come to life, you’ll never know what adventure you’re in for. $9, free admission for kids under 2. 402-930-2352 - ocm.org LEGO: Travel Adventure  Through September 6, Omaha Children’s Museum—500 S. 20th St. What will you build in the new exhibit LEGO Travel Adventure? This exhibit invites children and their families to use LEGO bricks to create their own imaginary dream machines. What will you build? Where will you go? $9, free admission for kids under two. 402-930-2352 - ocm.org

calendar  july/august


S I M P LY D I S T I N C T I V E Ann Taylor | Anthropologie | Borsheims | Christian Nobel Furs | Evereve | Francesca’s Collections Garbo’s Salon & Spa | Learning Express Toys | LOFT | Parsow’s Fashions | Pottery Barn | Pottery Barn Kids Rhylan Lang | The Linen Gallery | Tilly | White House|Black Market | Williams-Sonoma DINING: Bonefish Grill | Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar | Paradise Bakery & Cafe

Gardens Gone Wild at Lauritzen Gardens  Through October 4, Lauritzen Gardens—100 Bancroft St. More than 30 whimsical sculptures by nationally-acclaimed wildlife sculptor Dan Ostermiller find summer residency in the beautiful surroundings of Lauritzen Gardens. 9am5pm. $10 for adults, $5 for children. 402-346-4003 - lauritzengardens.org HOME TO

Tempo of Twilight at Lauritzen Gardens  Through October 4, Lauritzen Gardens—100 Bancroft St. Bring chairs, food, beverages, and the whole family to enjoy music; acts to be decided. Weather permitting, concerts are held outdoors. Visit the gift shop or café for barbecue beef sandwiches, lemon bars, freshly popped popcorn and more. 6-8pm. $10 for adults, $5 for children. 402-346-4003 - lauritzengardens.org Salsa Sunday  July 5, House of Loom—1012 S. 10th St. Enjoy a salsa dancing class at 7:30pm with DJ Blandon Joiner, with social dancing to follow at 9pm. All levels welcome. Recurring every Sunday. 7:30pm-2am. $7. 402-706-7833

Mon-Fri 10am-8pm | Sat 10am-7pm | Sun 12pm-5pm 120 Regency Parkway | Omaha, Nebraska | regencycourtomaha.com

RiverFest Community Festival  July 17-18, Haworth Park—Payne Drive, Bellevue. Join this outdoor festival with a KCBS sanctioned barbecue competition, fireworks, kid zone, car show, live music, hot air balloons, beer garden, food and craft vendors, and more. Friday, 5pm-1am; Saturday, 7am-1am. Tickets $1. 402-898-3000 - bellevuenebraska.com Charlie Murphy  July 17-19, Funny Bone Comedy Club—17305 Davenport St. Charlie Murphy’s rapid evolution from Chappelle’s Show cast member to top-billed international comedian, playing to sold-out audiences around the globe, has been remarkable. He has spent the past eight years performing his critically acclaimed stand-up show and solidifying his position in Hollywood as a true acting, writing, and producing talent, in his own right. 21+. Tickets $27.50. Times range. 402-493-8036 - omaha.comedyreservations.com Brew at the Zoo  July 18, Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium—3701 S. 10th St. Join this second annual after-hours event that includes samples of beer and wine from local breweries, live music from Red Delicious, food, games, and animal encounters. 21+. 7-10pm. $50 for members, $55 for non-members. 402-738-2038 - omahazoo.com

omaha magazine • july/august 2015



july/august 2015

CALENDAR OF EVENTS ninth Annual Nebraska Balloon & Wine Festival August 7-8, Coventry Campus—south of 204th and Q streets. A celebration featuring hot air balloon launches and glows. Enjoy Nebraska wines, Midwest food & barbeque, area bands & musicians, entertainment, shopping, crafts, pony rides, and more. Friday, 5-11pm; Saturday 3-11pm. General admission $7. 402-346-8003 - showofficeonline.com


Going Buggy at Wildlife Safari Park  August 8, Lee G. Simmons Conservation Park and Wildlife Safari—exit 426, Ashland, NE. Discover what bugs can do at Wildlife Safari Park. Fly over to Wolf Canyon to check out bug displays, learn about the important role in nature bugs play, and participate in buggy crafts. 11am-3pm. Tickets $7 for adults, $5 for children. 402-944-9453 - wildlifesafaripark.com Sweet Corn Festival August 8-9, Lauritzen Gardens—100 Bancroft St. Nothing says summer like fresh-picked sweet corn. Celebrate this backyard favorite and Nebraska’s agricultural jewel with a variety of activities, entertainment, and plenty of delicious locally-grown sweet corn. 9am5pm. $10 for adults, $5 for children. 402-346-4003 - lauritzengardens.org Dancing with the Stars Live!  July 22, Ralston Arena—7300 Q St. Dancing with the Stars Live! is hitting the road, visiting 40+ cities across America. This is the ultimate opportunity for fans to see their favorite stars dance live in their hometowns. 7:30-9:30pm. $44.50-$64.50. 402-934-9966  ralstonarena.com

Beer & Bacon Festival  August 1, Old Mattress Factory—501 N 13th St. Try a variety of bacon-themed samples of local craft beer at this event, which benefits the Ronald McDonald House and the Omaha Jaycees. Tickets $30. Must be 21-plus to attend. 402-984-4857 - omahabeerandbacon.com

Hot Cars Under the Stars  July 25, No Frills Shopping Center—50th & G streets. From the classic to the crazy, this car show sponsored by the Midwest Camaro Club will feature oceans of chrome in celebrating America’s century-long love affair with the automobile. All makes of cars and trucks will be on display at this event, which also serves as a fundraiser for Omaha Food Bank. 7pm. - midwestcamaro.com

The Woman Who Would Be King  August 4, Durham Museum—801 S. 10th St. Kathlyn Cooney Ph.D., will speak on her book The Woman Who Would Be King: Hatshepsut’s Rise to Power in Ancient Egypt (2014). Cooney is associate professor of Egyptian Art and Architecture at UCLA, and produced Discovery Channel’s Out of Egypt (2009). Tickets $9 for adults, $6 for children. 402-444-5071 - durhammuseum.org

Joslyn Castle Classic Car Show  July 26, Joslyn Castle—3902 Davenport St. Classic cars, trucks, and motorcycles will grace Joslyn Castle’s 5.5 acre estate. 10am-4pm. $10 for adults, free for children 12 and under. 402-595-2199  joslyncastle.com


omaha magazine • july/august 2015

Omaha Fashion Week  Aug. 17-22, The Yard, 14th and Cuming streets. This event has become a new tradition for the area, and it brings in fashionistas and artists from across the Midwest. Events range from children’s wear to bridal and more. Tickets $40-$80. 402-937-1061 - omahafashionweek.com  PERFORMING ARTS Shakespeare on the Green: Othello  Through July 3, Elmwood Park—64th & Dodge streets. Show up before the play to get the best seats, great food, preshow entertainment, activities, and more. 8pm. Free. 402-280-2391 - nebraskashakespeare.com

calendar  july/august

Come by & try Omaha’s award winning spirits in our tasting room Wednesday through Saturday.


LATE NIGHT CATECHISM Late Night Catechism  July 8-19, Omaha Community Playhouse—6915 Cass St. Call it Loretta Young meets Carol Burnett. This is part catechism class, part stand-up routine. It’s an interactive comedy, one of the longest running shows in Chicago and U.S. theater history. 402-553-0800. - omahaplayhouse.com Improv Genesis August 6, The Backline—1618 Harney St. Every Thursday. See a mix of veteran improv players along with some up-and-comers. This is Backline’s night to experiment with new shows. 8-11pm. Free admission. 402-720-7670 - backlinecomedy.com Loretta Lynn  August 7, Holland Performing Arts Center—1200 Douglas St. For 50 years now, Loretta has fashioned a body of work as artistically and commercially successful—and as culturally significant—as any female performer you’d care to name. Her music has confronted many of the major social issues of her time, and her life story is a rags-to-riches tale familiar to pop, rock, and country fans alike. The Coal Miner’s Daughter—the tag refers to a hit single, an album, a best-selling autobiography, an Oscar-winning film, and to Lynn herself—has journeyed from the poverty of the Kentucky hills to Nashville superstardom to her current status as an honest-to-goodness American icon. 8pm. Tickets starting at $64. 402-345-0606 - ticketomaha.com


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omaha magazine • july/august 2015



Peace. Love. Understanding. Dr. Eric Elnes

by daisy hutzell-rodman  •  photography by bill sitzmann


ric Elnes once aspired to a

career in science, specifically solar research. He ended up in an arena centered around the pursuit of knowledge, just at the other end of the spectrum. He became the Rev. Dr. Eric Elnes, head pastor at Countryside Community Church. Science is still of great interest to him. “We brought in an astronomer from Adler Planetarium (Chicago),” Elnes says. His progressive views also dwell in the terrestrial. “Evolution,” he says, “is love trying to work its way out into the universe.” This sense of cosmic cohesiveness is at the core of Elnes’ preaching and personality. Punctuating this philosophy is a bookshelf housing, among other things, a statue of the Hindu god Shiva, a menorah, and a Middle-Eastern incense burner acquired during his travels. He knew God wanted him to become a member of the clergy

“I heard someone saying ‘tell her it’s OK’...as soon as I did, it was like there was an immediate sense of presence. God’s love.” - dr. eric elnes


omaha magazine • july/august 2015


faces  dr. eric elnes

even as he earned a degree in economics (another detour, but a long story) from Whitman College. “I had a profoundly mystical experience,” Elnes remarks. “It was…myself and one other person were having a conversation. She’d had a trauma. I heard someone saying ‘tell her it’s OK.’ I repeated those words to her, and as soon as I did, it was like there was an immediate sense of presence. God’s love. A huge awareness of God.” He graduated from Princeton Theological Seminary with a Master of Divinity in 1991 and a Ph.D. in 1997. While working on his Ph.D. and preaching in Arizona, Elnes co-authored The Phoenix Affirmations, 12 statements of faith broadly describing a Christian love of God, neighbor, and self. “I wanted to offer a religious voice for equality,” says Elnes, who helped lead a 2,500mile walk from Phoenix to Washington, D.C., in 2006 to promote awareness of progressive/ emerging Christian faith. The walk combined his love of Christianity with his love of nature. Elnes’ hobbies include kayaking, and he rides his bike to the church as often as possible. He came to Omaha in 2008 with his wife, Melanie, and their daughters Maren, now 21, and Arianna Bristol, 23. Maren is a word meaning “of the sea” (think “mariner”); Arianna’s middle name is in honor of Bristol Bay, Alaska, where Elnes spent many years. He often preaches about the need for inclusivity. That’s a big reason the Tri-Faith Initiative, the innovative effort to colocate a mosque, synagogue, and Christian church in west Omaha, asked Countryside to become part of their organization. “I have been greatly impressed with his open and generous approach to thoughts, ideas, and beliefs which may be different from his own,” says Dr. Syed M. Mohiuddin, president of the American Institute of Islamic Studies and Culture, and a key member of the Tri-Faith Initiative board. “I will never forget the moment when, at the end of Sunday services a day before Dr. King’s birthday celebrations, Dr. Elnes took the podium to recite the ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, from memory, with such love and passion that it moved the audience to tears.” The exuberant minister plans to continue spreading his messages of love and understanding to new, even more diverse communities on the Tri-Faith campus. “I think it’s the greatest job in the world,” Elnes proclaims.  OMAG

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by tom mccauley  •  photography by bill sitzmann

Out of the Shadows Michelle Troxclair


t the risk of stating the obvi-

ous, Michelle Troxclair commands a full life. She’s a poet, spoken word artist, and founding member of the storytelling troupe The Wordsmiths. By day, she works as deputy director of the Nebraska Writers Collective, a nonprofit organization that promotes creative writing and performance poetry throughout the Midwest. With fellow poet Felicia Webster, she runs the Verbal Gumbo open mic at House of Loom every third Thursday of the month. She will graduate this July with a Masters of Fine Arts in creative writing from the University of Nebraska-Omaha—her second postgraduate degree. She’s a mother of three, an advocate for individuals living with autism, and an awe-inspiring woman who makes at least one Omaha Magazine contributor feel like an indolent narcissist by comparison. As if all that weren’t enough, Troxclair is currently engaged in a residency with The Wordsmiths at Bemis Center’s Carver Bank. The group is working on a spoken art showcase addressing domestic violence (Love Didn’t Do That To You) and a new project dealing with 30

omaha magazine • july/august 2015

“The next generation is thinking and they’re active and speaking truth to power…and using words to do it. It’s absolutely amazing what they have to say.”” - Michelle Troxclair

art+culture  michelle troxclair

corporal punishment and violence within the African-American community (From the Whip to the Switch to the Gun). “I’ve got my fingers in a lot of stuff right now,” she quips. For a good introduction to Troxclair’s poetry, check out her YouTube videos, particularly “The Trigger,” an urgent work addressed to an unnamed police officer that has unjustifiably killed a black woman. The performance starts with a single shadowy figure clad in a black hoodie staring at the floor of a stark white room whose brick walls are cracked and peeling—a subtle visual symbol of the entrapment many black Americans feel subjected to by a predominantly white bureaucratic power structure. The poem surges on the waves of Troxclair’s words as her cadence quickens, slows, and syncopates around gutpunch metaphors and unflinching appeals to civility. At the piece’s climax, the shadow-figure, Troxclair herself, removes her hood and speaks directly to the camera: You don’t know me. I am a 46-year-old mother of three. I’m a homeowner, taxpayer, and I got a master’s degree. I don’t want you to love me, like me, or even respect me. I just need you to let me be. So please take your finger off the trigger. It’s an uncompromising performance that stays with you, a piece that wouldn’t cut so soul-deep if rendered only in print. Besides developing her own powerful art, Troxclair takes pride in cultivating Omaha’s young poetic talent through Nebraska Writers Collective’s Louder Than a Bomb initiative: an extensive poetry-writing and performance workshop conducted in area schools and capped by a friendly tournament. The program strives to reach students who might not be served by such activities as sports, music, or visual arts. “[Louder Than a Bomb] gives me, at age 46, hope that the next generation is thinking and they’re active and speaking truth to power…and using words to do it. It’s absolutely amazing what they have to say.” Some of these students will go on to become the next powerhouses in Omaha’s poetry scene. In fact, Troxclair says, The Wordsmiths are bringing in younger members “just for some new energy and innovative stuff. “I’m the elder here,” she adds, laughing, “and eventually, I will be leaving.” But not before leaving a legacy that will cast the longest of shadows.  OMAG

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All located at 10th & Howard

omaha magazine • july/august 2015



by kim carpenter  •  photography by bill sitzmann

Art as Social Justice Multimedia Artist Tim Guthrie

“I didn’t want to be a painter. I wanted to be an artist. I didn’t want to be a sculptor. I wanted to be an artist. The medium isn’t relevant.” - tim guthrie


uring one of Tim Guthrie’s

exhibitions, a woman commented to one of his friends, “Tim is such a great photographer!” The friend replied, “He’s a really great painter, too.” The woman, somewhat perplexed, asked, “He can paint?” That conversation encapsulates much of Guthrie’s work. The Creighton University professor who teaches in the department of journalism, new media, and computing can be classified as neither painter nor photographer, but as an artist who focuses on concepts rather than media—an approach that leaves many struggling to describe his work. “I’ve been criticized about that ever since college,” Guthrie says. “My professor told me to pick a concentration. I chose painting, sculpture, and photography. He said, ‘No, you’re supposed to pick only one.’ I still did all three. I didn’t like the classifications. I didn’t want to be a painter. I wanted to be an artist. I didn’t want to be a sculptor. I wanted to be an artist. The medium isn’t relevant.” What is relevant is Guthrie’s message. While his mediums vary widely, he uses them

all to advocate for social justice, often by focusing on controversial issues. In Extraordinary Rendition, a 2010 exhibition in collaboration with performance artist Doug Hayko, Guthrie created large-scale drawings that called attention to the CIA’s secret detention program and use of torture. For Big Art Giveway (2012), he commented on the one percent by creating more than 500 artworks that he gave away to local members of the 99 percent—people who typically can’t afford art. In 2013 he curated The Museum of Alternative History, an exhibition inspired by the Texas school board’s reinterpretations of history that are often included in textbooks nationwide. He invited writers and visual artists to create their own versions of history, which were presented to the public as authentic. Although all his subjects are potentially provocative, Guthrie’s work has been acclaimed by the public and critics alike. Over the past eight years, he has received Omaha Arts & Entertainment Awards for best show, best new media artist, best visual artist, and best group show. He has shown his work

regionally and nationally. Guthrie’s experimental animated film, Recalling the Trinity, which focused on the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, went international with a presentation in 2010 at the Sorbonne in Paris and was shown at the Hiroshima Animation Festival that same year. Guthrie’s current work continues to address social justice issues. For Koch Money, he overlays images of the billionaire Koch brothers—known for donating millions to finance conservative political campaigns—onto the faces of the founding fathers on U.S. currency. It’s an unconventional way to bring attention to campaign finance laws and the Supreme Court’s ruling on Citizens United, but, Guthrie notes with a smile, “No one’s ever turned down my money.” No matter the media, Guthrie remains committed to using art for a specific purpose. “There is a consistent thread,” he explains. “I want to make information available to people.”  OMAG

omaha magazine • july/august 2015




get up every weekday morning at

10 minutes after three. Let me repeat, it’s very dark, sometimes very cold, and always very, very, very, early in the morning when my alarm goes off. Did you get that? While you are snuggled in your bed, your brain happily feeding itself on REM-induced trances involving Bora Bora, tropical fish, and 100-proof rum concoctions garnished with mangoes and little umbrellas, I am being shocked into painful real-world consciousness by rude buzzing, cruel ringing, or cacophonous jangling. I am a living case study in sleep deprivation. I have been doing this (with only a few short intermissions) for 35 years. The darkthirty (very, very early) alarm goes off. I get up. Over the years the implements of my self-induced torture have mutated. It began with an old Westclox Big Ben alarm clock. Not only did this device produce an audible ticking sound through the night, it went off like the bell at an old fire station, all the while hopping up and down like a hyper-excited wombat in a Warner Brothers cartoon from the ’40s. Though highly effective in the finest medieval manner, another human being who had come to share my sleeping space voiced some 34

omaha magazine • july/august 2015

by otis xii

My Daily Wake objections to having her dreams so harshly terminated both by Big Ben and the muttered epithets that I naturally chose to accompany my rising. People can be so unreasonable. I was advised to move on to a more “humane,” modern device. Ah, yes, the modern clock radio…the theory of this innovation was that the sleeper could be gently awakened by the strains of music as programmed by either an AM or FM radio station in the immediate locality. Sometimes the concept worked. Sometimes it didn’t. Sometimes I opened my bleary eyes to “Stairway to Heaven.” Sometimes my bloodshot peepers were pried open by “Highway to Hell.” And then there were the mornings the digital number card flipped with a click and a carpet commercial stuck its loud, ugly head directly into my slumbering visions to yell at me, “Time to get up, moron!” In those moments as I tried to rid myself of the subliminally implanted urge to buy new white shag for the family room, I wrestled with a new, wonderful temptation—the snooze button. Wake up! Hit the snooze…wake up! Hit the snooze…wake up! Hit the snooze…wake up! Get served divorce papers…wait…yes, snooze abuse has ended more than a few relationships. After all, there is no mention

of having to put up with psychologically damaging, intermittent sleep interruption in wedding vows. And there was another problem. My job through most of these past 35 years has involved me playing musical selections for a discerning morning audience. Music is my profession. It permeates every pore of my being. I love music. But music does not wake me up. Next I tried one of those New Age natural sound generators that manufactured sounds ranging from gentle surf hissing on a sandy beach to a forest complete with mystical bird songs to a mountain ambiance that mimicked a breezy ridge line in the Andes. I was frequently late for work. Nowadays, I am sent out into the world by my iPhone6 that can produce any number of sounds heretofore unimaginable to such mortals as I. I have settled on the “Last Words of King Joffrey at the Purple Wedding.” I now arise with a smile and, after my morning ablutions, head out into the pre-dawn world most people never get to experience—the world of bread truck drivers, die-hard party folk, and eight-hour-old convenience store coffee. I am blessed. I get up every weekday morning at 10 minutes after three.   OMAG

omaha magazine • july/august 2015


144th St.

THANK YOU! 14406 Harrison St. • Omaha, NE 68138 • 402.403.5735 www.OmahaDentists.net

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Call Midwest Pain Clinics to see how our providers can improve your quality of life. Midwest Pain Clinics 825 N. 90th Street | Omaha, NE 68114 402-391-PAIN (7246) contact@midwestpainclinics.com


omaha magazine • july/august 2015

Siou Lab


by andy williams  •  photography by bill sitzmann


He Ain’t Heavy Boys Town’s Chris and Lori Mathsen


hris and Lori Mathsen

received a surprise phone call recently that reminded them why their planned one-year stay as live-in family teachers at Boys Town has stretched into 26 memory-filled years.  > continued on page 38 omaha magazine • july/august 2015



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omaha magazine • july/august 2015

continued from page 37 <  The Mathsens hadn’t heard from this particular young man—one of nearly 200 teenage boys to move through their family home on the West Dodge Road campus—for more than 20 years. If they did hear from him again, they figured he wouldn’t say much. “He didn’t do anything to really stand out while he was here,” says Chris, “Nothing too crazy. Nothing that positive. He was only vaguely interested in what was happening.” All those years later, the young man reached out. He couldn’t believe the Mathsens were still at Boys Town, still overseeing the same house full of teenagers, still with the same Michael Jordan poster that has survived countless Nerf gun wars and sometimes less playful confrontations in the home’s spacious basement. The young man, now married with two children, had a message that never gets old to those dedicating their lives to helping troubled teens. “He told us his time here totally changed his life, and he doesn’t know where he would be without it,” Chris says. “We had no idea, especially with him. There is power in that.” Indeed there is, so much so that Lori Mathsen, who took a one-year sabbatical from earning a Ph.D. to obtain real-life experience, turned it into 25-plus years of helping teenage boys turn from trouble to sports, music, ROTC, good grades, and a brighter future. So much so that Chris shut down his roofing company and went to Creighton University for an MBA that’s still waiting to be deployed while the Mathsens raise their 11-year-old son, Karsten, and 10-year-old daughter, Kari, in a house full of boys who are learning what it’s like to be treated like family in a place they can call home. “There have been plenty of times when we ask ourselves, ‘What have we done?’” Lori says. “Let’s take a normal job…and have some privacy…and not get cussed out by kids. But then there are always special kids that you think, ‘I want to stick around to see that kid through.’ Then another one grabs your heart,” and the Mathsens repeat the process. “You bond with them and they bond with you. They ask us sometimes, ‘Are you going to leave before I graduate?’ We don’t want to let them down.”

boys town

The Mathsens have certainly passed the perseverance test. The average tenure of Boys Town’s live-in family teachers is around three years. Life with young people who need to reshape behaviors and relationships can get intense. “We’re on a treadmill that never stops,” Lori says. “We don’t like to be bored, and there’s no danger of that.” The couple have grown to love their Boys Town life even more since their kids were born. The older boys in the home provide role models—good and, sometimes, bad. And there’s never a shortage of playmates as the Boys Town kids are almost always willing to shoot hoops or pool, battle at Just Dance, or strike up a wiffle ball game. “When we go on vacation, before the week is even up our kids start asking, ‘I wonder what they’re doing at home? I wonder what’s going on with so-and-so?’ Chris says. “They told us, ‘We’ll be mad at you if we ever leave Boys Town,’ and they mean it.” It’s all part of helping kids move from turmoil (home, school, the legal system) to a shot at a coveted place in the Mathsen “Hall of Fame.” That select group is represented by a large picture on a stairway wall. It’s an elite group—a coveted position reached by only four boys over the decades through demonstrating uncommon character, leadership, academic excellence, and extracurricular achievement. There’s Robert, who graduated from Boys Town with a 4.0 GPA, three varsity sports letters, and no incidents on his record. And there’s Jay, who was identified by a police officer as a teen with potential but heading down the wrong path. He now serves as an assistant family teacher at Boys Town. “We get to watch him come to work every day and give back what was given to him,” Chris says. “These kids can be the biggest pains in the hind end, but then something breaks through and you see a kid change and head the right direction. There aren’t many places where you get the opportunity to spend your life being part of that.” “It’s a place for second chances,” Lori adds, “and maybe even third or fourth chances.” The Mathsens view their time at Boys Town as one small part of something special that’s been happening for nearly a century at the place known for its iconic motto of “He ain’t heavy, Father, he’s my brother.”  OMAG

Cordial Cherry The

~ fine artisan chocolates ~


Best Sweet Shop! Quick Vote Code: 34024 1223 S. 180th Street thecordialcherry.com · 402.679.3011

Starting at

Thank You Omaha! Best Florist

“Taylor Made” for ALL your floral needs since 1950”

Locally Owned Since 1950


12310 K Plaza, Ste. 108 www.taylorsflowers24hours.com

PEDI • MANI • SHELLAC • ACRYLIC • SOLAR FACIALS • WAXING • MASSAGE Thank You Omaha for Voting Us #1 Four Years in a Row for Manicures & Pedicures Like us on Facebook & check out our website for monthly specials and party packages!

402.779.8700 3618 N. 165th St. Omaha, NE 68116 americannailsandspaomaha.com

omaha magazine • july/august 2015



by andy williams  •  photography by bill sitzmann

“They are not disadvantaged in their abilities, just in the opportunities they’ve had to succeed.” - miah sommer


The Bike Union Peddling (Make That Pedaling) Solutions for All 40

omaha magazine • july/august 2015


iah Sommer hopes his

Bike Union venture will turn the tide for many Omaha-

area youth. The Bike Union opens this summer as a full-service bike shop in a flying saucer-looking former bank building near 19th and Dodge streets. Sommer is renovating the space with the help of multiple foundations and private donors. Under the themes of “Sales…Service… Social Change,” the Bike Union will sell

refurbished bikes and also offer bicycle repair. Its most important function, however, will be employing at-risk youth and recalibrating their direction in life. “I hear the term ‘disadvantaged youth,’ but we don’t see it that way,” Sommer says. “Central to our philosophy, these kids are just as capable as the next person. They are not disadvantaged in their abilities, just in the opportunities they’ve had to succeed.” Sommer understands the struggle. He was determined not to become a statistic—one of

giving  the bike union

those kids who couldn’t overcome a tough upbringing to avoid poverty, homelessness, or jail. He made it to college and got heavily involved in the music and bicycling industries, where he discovered a talent for managing and mentoring others. The Bike Union, he says, is the perfect bridge between his past and his passion for helping at-risk youth. “We want to give them the tools they need to achieve a vision of success.” Sommer plans to deliver those tools by hiring youth who are aging out of the foster care system. Too many of those kids, he says, don’t graduate from high school. Too many can’t find a job. Too many are… headed nowhere. Working 20-hour weeks in a 12-month program, Sommer envisions his workforce being trained in position-specific skills and general core competencies that make them attractive to potential employers. “There are so many ways we can benefit youth and the community through this shop,” says Sommer, who previously launched another youth bike mentoring program at a local Trek dealership. “We want to be self-sustaining as soon as we can so we can serve as many youth as possible.” Sommer is banking on the fact that a growing bicycle culture in Omaha will fuel the service side of the shop, and he counts on the giving nature of the city to keep the shop stocked with donated bikes that can be refurbished and then sold to further fund the program. “If you get your bike serviced here, get a flat changed here, you’re helping fund a nonprofit and change the community,” Sommer says. “By donating or purchasing a bike, you will be turning your compassion into money to help fund a nonprofit and change the community. “Donating bikes, time, and money will be the lifeblood of what we do for these kids.” For Sommer, it’s a chance to create opportunities he had to find himself when he grew up in south Omaha. Sommer says he decided on his own that he didn’t like his educational path, “so I started reading books and haven’t stopped since. “The toughest part of growing up for me was people being content with you becoming a statistic,” Sommer says. “Rather than let that happen and feel pity for these kids, I want to show them a better path.”  OMAG


Help us keep early detection of lung cancer


Lung cancer is most treatable in its early stages, when there are no obvious symptoms. The Lung Look Test detects the earliest signs of lung cancer so that treatments may begin as soon as possible. Eligibility criteria for the Lung Look Test:

• Age 55-77 • Asymptomatic • A current smoker or have quit within the last 15 years • A 30 pack-year smoking history (1 pack per day for 30 years or 2 packs a day for 15 years, etc.)

• A written order from your medical provider for a low-dose CT scan after a shared decision-making visit For more information, call the Methodist Lung Cancer Clinic at 402-354-5858 or toll-free 888-888-0506. ©2015 Methodist Estabrook Cancer Center, an affiliate of Methodist Health System




Mission: To enhance the quality of life of the blind and visually impaired. Outlook Nebraska, Inc. (ONI) positively impacts the lives of those with vision loss through: • Employment at all levels of our organization that empowers Associates with independence and confidence • Expanding programs to assist vision impaired children and adults in our community • Advocacy for capabilities of the blind in their personal and professional lives
























omaha magazine • july/august 2015



Giving Events July/August 2015 JULY EVENTS July 18

July 18

July 27

Ales for Tails

17th Annual Ted E. Bear Hollow Remembrance Walk

Swing 4 Kids

Nebraska Humane Society Regency Marriott nehumanesociety.org

Ted E. Bear Hollow Millers Landing tedebearhollow.org

July 20

Partnership 4 Kids Field Club of Omaha p4k.org July 27

Driving for Excellence Golf Fest

July 23 and 24

Destino Dinner 2015

Mercy High School The Players Club at Deer Creek mercyhigh.org

Links to a Cure Dinner & Golf Benefit for Cystic Fibrosis

Latino Center of the Midlands Historic Livestock Exchange Ballroom latinocenterofthemidlands.org

Dinner - Embassy Suites La Vista Golf Benefit - Quarry Oaks Golf Club cff.org/Chapters/nebraska/

July 17

July 31

Hope in the Heartland Gala

Dance for a Chance

American Cancer Society Stinson Park at Aksarben Village gala.acsevents.org

Youth Emergency Services, Inc. Omar Arts & Events yesomaha.org


August 9

August 17

August 28

95th Anniversary Reunion

BaconFest Omaha

DVC Golf Tournament

Omaha Home For Boys omahahomeforboys.org

Ray & Joan Kroc Corps Community Center givesalvationarmy.org

Domestic Violence Council Champions Run dvccomaha.org

ALS in the Heartland Wine and Beer Event

MVP4Life Golf Fundraiser

August 10

August 17-22

Dodge Riverside Golf Course MVP4Life.org

ORA Golf Tournament

Omaha Fashion Week

August 28 and 29

Fashion Institute Midwest The Yard on 14th & Cuming omahafashionweek.com


August 1

Omaha Restaurant Association Champions Run dineoutomaha.com

Omaha Beer and Bacon Festival

August 16

August 20

Corporate Cycling Challenge

Canvas & Cabernet

August 29

Community 360 Aksarben Village community-360.org

Papillion-La Vista Schools Gala 2015

August 1

Ronald McDonald House Fundraiser Old Mattress Factory omahabeerandbacon.com August 5

Eastern Nebraska Trails Network Heartland of America Park corporatecycling.com

Neighborhood Night Out Kids Can Community Center TBA August 7-9

Spirit of Courage Weekend Methodist Jennie Edmundson Hospital Cancer Center jehfoundation.org August 9

Boxer 500 – A SHORT Run to Fight Colon Cancer Great Plains Colon Cancer Task Force & Omaha Running Club Werner Park coloncancertaskforce.org


omaha magazine • july/august 2015

August 20

ALS in the Heartland The Shops of Legacy alsintheheartland.org

Joslyn Castle Foundation Joslyn Castle joslyncastle.org

Papillion-La Vista Schools plvschoolsfoundation.org

August 16

Project Pink’d Exposed

August 31

City Sprouts Grow with Us Gala

Project Pink’d Hilton Omaha projectpinkd.org

Jesuit Academy Golf Tournament

City Sprouts Lauritzen Gardens omahasprouts.org August 17

QLI Golf Challenge QLI Players Club at Deer Creek qliomaha.com

August 22

Summer Bash for Childhood Cancer Metro Area Youth Foundation, Inc. Ramada Plaza Convention Center summerbashforccc.org

Tuition Assistance Fund for Jesuit Academy Field Club of Omaha jesuitacademy.org

by  •  photography by bill sitzmann

Are You Ready for Summer? Koca Chiropractic can get you on the right track to keep your energy up and experience life to the fullest.

The first step is to make health your #1 priority NEW LOCATION 11420 Blondo St, Ste. 102 402.496.4570 www.YourFamilysChiropractor.com

Yes, We Make House Calls…

FOR FREE! Call (402) 558-3677 to sign up. We’ll bring you a reusable Max I. Walker Express Bag. Then, we’ll pick it up, clean your clothes how you like, and bring them back when it’s most convenient for you.

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Way to go Chef!

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First Place 5 years in a row! An approved caterer for many of Omaha’s nest venues.


omaha magazine • july/august 2015  1022-3545 MaxDelOmahaMagAd2015.indd 1

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special section

Campaign 2016


MAHA MAGAZINE’S Best OF OMAHA™ contest is a pure,

popular vote and the most recognizable and prestigious “Best” contest in the Omaha area. It started in the early ’80s with the Omaha Magazine staff voting who was the best in the city in about a dozen categories. Then, in the early ’90s, the public was asked to vote for their favorites. Last year, more than

30,000 voters cast more than 725,000 votes in the Best of Omaha contest. Omaha Magazine welcomes back media partner KETV 7 and introduces a venue sponsor, the University of Nebraska-Omaha’s newly christened Baxter Arena. Their participation not only expands our audience but also increases the number of votes cast. It truly is a community contest.   > continued on page 46

Scan the page with the LayAR app and see 3D without those goofy glasses.

Voting starts July 1st and continues through August 30th. omaha magazine • july/august 2015


WE APPRECIATE YOUR VOTE! Locally Owned & Operated Licensed, Insured & Bonded Before


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We Would Appreciate Your Vote for



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FIVE SALON WE WOULD APPRECIATE YOUR VOTE ONE PACIFIC PLACE 402-715-5757 www.fivesalon.com Hair by Danielle Kempf & Melissa Vredenburg


omaha magazine • july/august 2015



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special section

continued from page 45 <  Best of Omaha voting is all done online. Only one ballot per email address is accepted, and at least 15 votes on the ballot must be completed for it to be counted. The contest is audited by Goracke & Associates, assuring fairness and accuracy. Best of Omaha categories vary from year to year. Those receiving few votes are dropped, while suggestions for new ones are always welcome. Some categories are very popular, with the results anxiously awaited (think “Best Steakhouse”). Many businesses vigorously campaign for Best of Omaha™ votes, handing out “Go Vote!” cards to customers and posting “Go Vote!” signs in their storefronts and on their websites. Once voting results are compiled, the top three winners in each category are awarded Best of Omaha™ Winner’s Circle status for the year. Winners are encouraged to proudly display the Winner’s Circle logo anywhere they wish—on print advertisements, in store windows, on billboards, on menus and brochures, and in their radio and television commercials. And why not? Best of Omaha Winners earned it! Really, what’s better than being recognized by those who matter the most—your customers? Voting in Best of Omaha 2015 begins July 1 and runs through August 30, with voting results published in the Best of Omaha results issue in December.   OMAG



Best Brazillian Blowout

Hair will be left frizz-free, shiny, effortlessly manageable & with plenty of body and bounce.

aliciaclarkhair.com 10916 W. Dodge Rd. 402.934.2121



10102 Maple St. 402-916-4411

5055 S.108th St. 402-408-0473

14005 Q St. 402-896-6347

1201 Howard St. 402-344-2264

330 N. 114th St. 402-333-6028



Best Hair Colorist 2016 L.A. Celebrity Colorist

ChristiClarkColor.com · 402-321-9410


Please vote for us as best bookstore.

We would appreciate your vote! (402) 516-2286 www.titusdesigns.com

Mon-Fri 9:30-9, Sat 9-6 Sun closed to honor God

84th & Harrison 6905 S. 84 St., La Vista 402-592-4866 divinetruthchristian.com

Books • Bibles • Music • Movies • T-shirts • Jewelry • Gifts • Church Supplies omaha magazine • july/august 2015


Contest Partners Best of Omaha 2016


We would appreciate your vote for Best Tattoo Parlor

Vote Code 30068 WWW.OMAHATATTOO.COM 3021 Leavenworth St., Omaha, Nebraska


Ariel Roblin President and General Manager KETV 7

Mike Cera General Manager, Baxter Arena Best of Omaha Festival Host


Baxter Arena

Being named the best doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time, teamwork and a commitment to doing the right thing no matter how hard it is. That’s how you become the best and that’s exactly what Omaha wants in their business community. What makes the Best of Omaha award such an honor is that it’s voted on by the people you serve every day. As Omaha’s News Leader, KETV is proud to be a part of Omaha Magazine’s Best of Omaha, celebrating the passion local businesses have in making Omaha such a great place to live. Now get out there and vote!  OMAG

On behalf of the University of Nebraska at Omaha, we are honored to host Omaha Magazine’s 2016 Best of Omaha Festival on November 21, 2015. This event is an opportunity for our community to experience the best companies and services that Omaha has to offer. For more than 105 years, UNO has forged a unique connection and partnership with Omaha. The Baxter Arena is a new chapter in that partnership, providing great benefit, both economically and socially, to the Omaha metropolitan area. We encourage everyone to vote in the Best of Omaha contest and stop by the Baxter Arena in November.  OMAG


108th & Maple

VOTE FOR US FOR BEST PHOTOGRAPHER! 402.331.9514 | deyosphoto.com


omaha magazine • july/august 2015

Next To Bag-N-Save 402-763-2218 jackmanecigs.com


special section






“When Dr. Stanley did my tummy tuck, I was back to work in only two days, and none of my friends could believe it. I can’t believe I had this procedure done in Omaha.”

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omaha magazine • july/august 2015  402.884.6700 | 2255 S 132nd St Suite 100 | www.sculptomaha.com



special seciton

The Power of Three Omaha’s Most We appreciate your vote for Best Hot Wings! Help us win two years in a row! Quick Vote Code: 90796

“Home of the Bowl of Beer” Open Daily 11am-2am 14110 “S” St. · 402-991-2663 · addysbar.com

Donut Haven We would appreciate your vote! 13807 P St. 402-861-9283 50

omaha magazine • july/august 2015

Exclusive Club


hree percent. That’s the number of Omaha

businesses that can claim a Best of Omaha award. George McGovern, the Dem’s 1972 offering for the highest office in the land, took home a mere three percent of the Electoral College (thanks, Massachusetts and the District of Columbia). His home state of South Dakota even shunned the candidate who was (mistakenly) described as running on a platform of “Acid, amnesty, and abortion.” While McGovern’s role in the U.S. Senate made him a member of what is called “the most exclusive club in the world,” his three percent showing on election day is remembered as an epic fail. But when we turn that number inside out, three percent flips from “mere” to mighty. That’s because a mere three percent of local businesses are recognized in what could be called the most exclusive club in the city—the Best of Omaha contest. That’s about the same percentage of high school football players who end up ever taking the field at the NCAA level. A measly three percent. And the progression from high school to the NFL? Divide that number by 100, as in a meager 0.03 percent. So think of the power of three as you vote for your favorites in the Best of Omaha contest. Who will be crowned the newest members of Omaha’s most exclusive club?  OMAG


We would appreciate your vote for best BBQ “It’s all good” 402-639-7275 7440 N. 30th St. Omaha, NE 68112 fatshackbbq.com

402-896-3247 | stanleysteamer.com

Please Vote Best Decorative Painting 2016!


e st Be ienc en e v n Co Stor

st Ex Wa pre sh ss

EXPERIENCE THE DIFFERENCE We Would Appreciate Your Vote for

Best Express Wash & Convenience Store! WAGING WAR ON UGLY WALLS SINCE 1989 100 off per qualifying room with mention of this ad.

whatisfaux.com • 402-491-3289

10 Locations Bring in your voting certificate and receive a free 24oz. coffee or 32oz. fountain drink! Limit: 1 per person | Expires 10.01.15


omaha magazine • july/august 2015


We Would Appreciate Your Vote for



“Because Painting is PersonalTM”


Bryan Hohenstein D.D.S

Matt Schieber D.D.S

We Appreciate Your Vote!

NEW STATION 3838 N 168th Ave.


ess-to-Busines sin sM Bu OMA H a


A’ S



z ga

Om ah a

MAIN STATION 6801 S. 180th St.

Rick Carstens D.D.S

2015 Winner


402.493.5358 omaha.certapro.com


BEST LANDSCAPING COMPANY 402.399.0288 8529 Frederick St. sunriselawnandgarden.com

We Would Appreciate Your Vote for

Best Pest Control Before


Clean • Seal • Recolor Regrout • Repair • Recaulk


We Would Appreciate Your Vote! 402-393-2565 groutdoctor.com

WE APPRECIATE YOUR VOTE! Roof Repair & Replacement │ Siding │ Gutters │ Insulation + more 402.898.7108 www.valleyboysinc.com 52

omaha magazine • july/august 2015

We Appreciate Your Vote for Best Gift Shop!

402.216.4545 itsallaboutbees.com 8540 Park Avenue | Ralston

Home of 72 State Champions!

We would appreciate your vote for best Martial Arts! Sempai Judo Academy 8521 Park Dr. Ralston, NE (402) 612-6412 B:3.675” judoomaha.com T:3.675” S:3.675”

Where will you WiFi? Most hotspots in Omaha

FireplaceStonePatio.com 402.884.8600 | 13709 Industrial Road

Please Vote us Best




Thrift Store!

With Cox, you have access to the fastest in-home WiFi and, now, the freedom to connect to the most free hotspots in Omaha and over 400,000 nationwide. So, where will you WiFi?

©2015 Cox Communications, Inc. All rights reserved. Free Cox WiFi network access is available to residential customers with Cox High Speed Internet Preferred or higher service in select Cox service areas. For available coverage areas, hotspots and other information, see cox.com/wifi. Access to fastest inhome WiFi based on Cox-recommended 802.11ac equipment, available for purchase at Cox Solutions Stores. Restrictions apply.

CX5-163 3.675” x 7.458”

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Donate your past to someones future!

Visit our new location late summer at 9715 Q Street in the Applewood shopping center next door to Hy-Vee on 96th and Q. angelguardians.org |2820 N. 90th Street 402.505.8300 | 15663 Spaulding 402.502.2430 omaha magazine • july/august 2015

6/5/15 4:04 PM


Please Vote Northwoods Cheese Haus Best Specialty Cheese Store!

402-934-7768 Please Vote for Us! 2715 S. 120th St. Omaha | 707 S. 72nd St. Omaha 2420 W. Broadway Council Bluffs www.krispykreme.com

310 N. Washington Street Papillion, NE 68046 NorthwoodsCheeseHaus@gmail.com

We would appreciate your vote for Best Tanning Salon WE WOULD APPRECIATE YOUR VOTE FOR BEST MULCH PROVIDER! 8415 Maple St. | SE Corner of 85th & Maple 402.397.8278 | www.maple85.com WE DELIVER! Omaha’s Largest Selection of Landscape Mulches. We also carry Top Soil, Fill Dirt, NE Compost, River Rock and Aggregates.

Locally Owned & Operated 15805 W. Maple Rd. |402.493.TANS 17520 Wright St. | 402.333.TANS

We Would Appreciate Your Vote for

Best Landscaping Service

pateralandscaping.com 402.706.5679

We Appreciate Your Vote!

We Appreciate Your Vote for Best Neighborhood Bar! happy hour Daily open - 7pm

Special Happy Hour Menu

3:59pm - 6:59pm & 9:01pm -12:01am Quality Instruction in a Positive & Encouraging Atmosphere

www.NebraskaDance.com 11426 Davenport Street│402.895.0646


omaha magazine • july/august 2015

Open Air Heated Outdoor Patio 12015 blondo st. • 402.493.7607 phoenixfoodandspiritsomaha.com

photography by Bill Sitzmann


The Secret’s on the Inside


We appreciate your vote.

by John Mangiameli, Creative Hair Design

’ve been embroiled

in an ongoing debate with my marketing people. They just can’t seem to get it into their heads how powerful I know it would be to have our windows emblazoned with the logo for every single Best of Omaha award we’ve ever won. Sure, they remind me that we’re talking about an unbroken string of awards dating back to 1993, the year Al Pacino won the Best Actor Oscar for Scent of a Woman. They tell me I’d be crazy to put up 22 almost identical logos where the only difference is the year listed. They name-drop such esoteric marketing lingo as “visual clutter” and “ugh.” But they always win out in this little tug of war, and I agree (again) to instead display only the most recent honor. That’s when they remind me that it doesn’t matter what’s on the outside of the building. It’s only what’s inside—our great customers and staff—that matter. And that maybe I should stick to what I apparently know best—continuing a tradition of indulging our clients with luxury services in a relaxing and nurturing environment…and leave the marketing to them. And I know, of course, that they are right. They are always right. We’re proud of who we are at Creative Hair Design, but prouder still of our customers. Forget about marketing meetings. Those Best of Omaha votes across the decades tell me quite a bit about what little I need to understand about marketing. But ours is a simple story—one that is repeated at businesses all over town. Being the Best of Omaha is about people. It’s about the people you hire and the people you serve. When you put all of your focus on people, success has a way of finding you. Maybe I’ll just sit out the next marketing meeting altogether.  OMAG

Montessori Educational Centers, Inc. WHERE CHILDREN LEARN TO LOVE TO LEARN

(402) 393-1311 www.OmahaMontessori.com

Visit Our Four Great Locations

Please vote for us as best ‘Breakfast’, ‘Lunch’ and ‘Sunday Brunch’

Breakfast & Lunch Served All Day Every Day! • 6 am-2 pm


Best Florist!

14265 Pacific St. | 402-333-3430 | floweramaomaha.com omaha magazine • july/august 2015



VOTED BEST SUB in virtually every market we serve 72nd & Pacific Omaha 402-502-9009

72nd & Cornhusker Rd. Papillion 402-504-1902

15th & Cornhusker Rd. Bellevue 402-932-7100


We Would Appreciate Your Vote for BEST DRY CLEANERS

3010 S, 84th Street | 402.934.4888 8810 S. 71st. Plaza | Papillion | 402.884.2468 3505 Metro Drive | Council Bluffs | 712.256.7701 pizzaranch.com




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omaha magazine • july/august 2015

www.BestOfOmaha.com July 1st through September 30th

Two Omaha Locations! 7007 S. 181st St. 402-905-3669 2076 N. 117th Ave. 402-932-3704

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omaha magazine • july/august 2015

Best of Omaha is the premier way for the community to tell businesses they have the greatest products and services in the area. We also think our voters are the best, and as a token of our appreciation, we are giving away three Apple watches. That’s right—Apple watches. Those clever timepieces that allow users to check their mail, send messages, and feel their loved ones’ heartbeat—right from their wrists. We’re giving away 42mm versions with sport bands—two black and one white. Interested yet? Earning a chance to win one is easy, and there is absolutely no purchase necessary. Simply vote for your favorites in Best of Omaha. First, vote on a minimum of 15 categories. That automatically gives you 15 chances. After that, you get one entry for each additional category you submit. The more categories you answer, the more entries you get. The winners will be randomly drawn. One Apple watch is allowed per winner.  OMAG


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Text KAJOMAS to 36000 omaha magazine • july/august 2015



special section Endodontics Thomas John Beeson

Endodontic Specialists Jason Bouska

Western Iowa Endodontics William C. Corcoran

Endodontic Associates Tobin N. Drake

Endodontic Associates Larry J. Ellison

Heartland Endodontic Specialists Jacob L. Fimple

Advanced Endodontic Therapy


Michael S. Hermsen

Heartland Endodontic Specialists MONG OTHER THINGS, OMAHA MAGAZINE is known for being an

authority on the best Omaha has to offer. Beyond our annual Best of Omaha™ contest, we also periodically provide lists of the best doctors, attorneys, and financial planners in our city. In this issue, we include topDentists™. Like our other lists, topDentists™ is the result of a peer-to-peer survey that asks the question, “If you had a patient in need of a dentist, which dentist would you refer them to?” The results, and a list of disclosures and disclaimers about the contest, can be found on the following pages. We hope you find this list valuable when you search for a provider for your dental needs. This list is excerpted from the 2015 topDentists™ list, a database which includes listings for more than 100 dentists and specialists in the Omaha area. The Omaha list is based on thousands of detailed evaluations of dentists and professionals by their peers. OMAG The complete database is available at www.usatopdentists.com. For more information call 706-3640853; write PO Box 970, Augusta, GA 30903; email info@usatopdentists.com, or visit www.usatopdentists. com.

Jose L. Ibarrola

Creighton University School of Dentistry Corey K. Karimjee

Midwest Endodontics Caci I. Liebentritt

Omaha Endodontists David A. Maixner

Midwest Endodontics Stephen P. Pryor

Endodontic Specialists Frank S. Sleder General Dentistry Wayne W. Barkmeier

Creighton University School of Dentistry Gregory M. Beals

Pacific Springs Dental Douglas K. Benn

Creighton University School of Dentistry William J. Bresnahan T. Pat Burchfiel

Burchfiel Dental Richard E. Callaway Brad W. Carson

Pacific Village Dental


omaha magazine • july/august 2015

topdentists™  special section Matthew D. Carter

Paragon Dental W. Thomas Cavel

Steven D. Wegner, DDS, MAGD Chosen by His Peers as a Top Dentist

Creighton University School of Dentistry Amy T. Chadwell

Chadwell Family Dentistry Jeffry F. Cherek Ralph M. Corpuz

A Recognized Leader in Dentistry

Corpuz Family Dentistry Mike C. Danahay

Dr. Steven Wegner values his

Dental Innovations

relationships within the dental community,

Kathy Lynn DeFord

his focus on continuing education and

DeFord Family Dental

technological advancement, and his

Scott C. DiLorenzo

40th & Dodge Family Dentistry

personalized approach to patient care.

Jeffrey D. Dworak

This dedication to the field of dentistry

Capehart Family Dentistry

has been recognized by numerous local

Ted S. Franco

and national organizations, but most

40th & Dodge Family Dentistry

importantly, by his peers and patients.

James G. Gerner Kendra L. Gosch

Gosch Family Dental Benjamin G. Hardy

Hardy Dental Gregory A. Havelka Bradley D. Higginbotham Dennis R. Higginbotham

Creighton University School of Dentistry Mary N. Kelsey Nicholas B. Kentopp

Indian Hills Dental Robin R. Khan

Dentistry for Health Christine M. Kozal

Clock Tower Dental Terry Francis Lanphier

Dundee Family Dental Richard D. Manning

Call today to schedule your complimentary consultation.

Marty J. Matz

The Tooth Doc James F. McCaslin

Evergreen Dental Group Stuart J. McNally

Millard Hills Dental Health Center

General, Cosmetic, and Implant Dentistry.

11840 Nicholas Street Omaha, NE 68154 402-498-0400

www.smilesofomaha.com omaha magazine • july/august 2015



Top Dentist!


General & Cosmetic dentistry 402-397-9330 | whittendentistry.com | facebook.com/whittendentistry 62

omaha magazine • july/august 2015


special section

Oral Surgery Associates

David R. Mlnarik

Carolyn L. Taggart-Burns

Shadow Ridge Dental

Millard Oaks Dental

Carol Marie Murdock

Brett H. Taylor

Taylor Dentistry

Midwest Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery

Kort A. Igel

Creighton University School of Dentistry

Allen L. Thomsen

James G. Morgan

Taera Kim

William T. Naughton

Thomsen Dental Group

Creighton University School of Dentistry

Afolabi O. Ogunleye

Brett S. Thomsen

Metro West Dental Specialty Group

Jeffrey R. Nielsen

Bel-Drive Dental Mark A. Nielsen

Nielson Dental Mark J. Panneton

Steven D. Wegner

Robert M. Pfeifle

Laura E. Low

Oral Surgery Associates

Clear Choice Orthodontics

Michael I. Shnayder

Brian McIntyre

Village Pointe Oral Surgery

McIntyre Orthodontics

Harold K. Tu

Mark Mendlik

Facial Surgery Institute

Mendlik Orthodontics

Jerome M. Wees

Barbara Jo Ries

Midwest Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery

Timothy J. Sheehan

Debra S. West Karry K. Whitten

Whitten Dentistry

Cassandra J. Pietrok

K. Robert Zaiman

Pacific Hills Dental

Zaiman & McClellan Family Dentistry

Sugiko M. Reed

Ohana Smiles Richard J. Ronk, Jr. Jay D. Samuelson

The Dentists at Hillsborough Thomas R. Schierbrock

Bluffs Family Dentistry

Igel Orthodontics

Premier Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery

Terry M. Wilwerding

Ohana Smiles

Exclusively Orthodontics

Thomsen Dental Group

Panneton Dental Group

Scott Radniecki

Michael P. McDermott

Joseph J. Hurd

Brian W. Zuerlein Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery John D. Andersen

Oral Surgery Associates

John P. Wewel

Midwest Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery David E. Williams

Creighton University School of Dentistry

Corey J. Auch

Wayne A. Labart

The Orthodontic Group Kimberley Alden Stafford

Stafford Orthodontics Wendell R. Stuntz

Southwest Orthodontics Associates Thomas J. Weber

Oral Surgery Associates


Weber Orthodontics

Stephen A. Coffey

Matthew Becker

Dennis D. Weiss

Michael R. Sesemann

Oral Surgery Associates

Imagine Orthodontics

Clear Choice Orthodontics

Nebraska Institute of Comprehensive Dentistry

Leon F. Davis

Kelly R. Conway

Michelle S. Wulf

Valmont Pierre Desa

Neil E. Dunlow

Southwest Orthodontics Associates

Allan M. Smith

Bellevue Family Practice Dentistry Randy Stout

John D. Engel

Oral Surgery Associates

Dundee Family Dental

James M. Heit

INTRODUCTION: This list is excerpted from the 2015 topDentists™ list, a database which includes listings for more than 120 dentists and specialists in the Omaha Area. The Omaha list is based on thousands of detailed evaluations of dentists and professionals by their peers. The complete database is available at www.usatopdentists.com. For more information call 706364-0853; write PO Box 970, Augusta, GA 30903; email info@usatopdentists.com or visit www.usatopdentists.com. SELECTION PROCESS: “If you had a patient in need of a dentist, which dentist would you refer them to?” This is the question we’ve asked thousands of dentists to help us determine who the topDentists should be. Dentists and specialists are asked to take into consideration years of experience, continuing education, manner with patients, use of new techniques and technologies and of course physical results. The nomination pool of dentists consists of

dentists listed online with the American Dental Association, as well as all dentists listed online with their local dental societies, thus allowing virtually every dentist the opportunity to participate. Dentists are also given the opportunity to nominate other dentists that they feel should be included in our list. Respondents are asked to put aside any personal bias or political motivations and to use only their knowledge of their peer’s work when evaluating the other nominees. Voters are asked to individually evaluate the practitioners on their ballot whose work they are familiar with. Once the balloting is completed, the scores are compiled and then averaged. The numerical average required for inclusion varies depending on the average for all the nominees within the specialty and the geographic area. Borderline cases are given careful consideration by the editors. Voting characteristics and comments are taken into consideration while making decisions. Past awards a dentist has received, status in various dental academies (Academy

Dunlow Orthodontics Thomas J. Huerter

Huerter Orthodontics of General Dentistry, American Academy of Periodontology, etc.) can play a factor in our decision. Once the decisions have been finalized, the included dentists are checked against state dental boards for disciplinary actions to make sure they have an active license and are in good standing with the board. Then letters of congratulations are sent to all the listed dentists. Of course there are many fine dentists who are not included in this representative list. It is intended as a sampling of the great body of talent in the field of dentistry in the United States. A dentist’s inclusion on our list is based on the subjective judgments of his or her fellow dentists. While it is true that the lists may at times disproportionately reward visibility or popularity, we remain confident that our polling methodology largely corrects for any biases and that these lists continue to represent the most reliable, accurate, and useful list of dentists available anywhere. DISCLAIMER: This list is excerpted from

Peter A. Ziegler

Ziegler Orthodontics

the 2015 topDentists™ list, which includes listings for more than 120 dentists and specialists in the Omaha metropolitan area. For more information call: 706-364-0853 or email: info@usatopdentists.com or visit: www.usatopdentists.com topDentists has used its best efforts in assembling material for this list but does not warrant that the information contained herein is complete or accurate, and does not assume, and hereby disclaims, any liability to any person for any loss or damage caused by errors or omissions herein whether such errors or omissions result from negligence, accident, or any other cause. Copyright 2010-2015 by topDentists, LLC of Augusta, GA. All rights reserved. This list, or parts thereof, must not be reproduced in any form without permission. No commercial use of the information in this list may be made without permission of topDentists. No fees may be charged, directly or indirectly, for the use of the information in this list without permission.

omaha magazine • july/august 2015


topdentists™  special section

The exceptional dental care you deserve from the professionals you trust.

Pediatric Dentistry

Brian Pendley, D.D.S. • Amy Ruf, D.D.S. • Jay Samuelson, D.D.S. J.R. Demman, D.D.S. • Jeffrey T. Garvey, D.D.S.

Carmen L. Dana

Anne S. Aiello

Dr. Samuelson was voted by his peers as Top Dentist

The Dentist at Hillsborough Best Family Dentist

Pedodontics P. C. Eric D. Hodges

Children’s Hospital and Medical Center Bryan Hohenstein HILLSBOROUGH•VILLAGE POINT•RALSTON SQUARE•DUNDEE thedentistsomaha.com

Smile Station Pediatric Dentistry Darin L. Kotil Nicholas J. Levering

UNMC Pediatric Dentistry George M. Rakes Matthew D. Schieber

Smile Station Pediatric Dentistry Lisa F. Strunk

Pedodontics P. C. Voted by his peers as

Mark H. Taylor

Taylor Dentistry

GEORGE M. RAKES, DDS, MS Pediatric Dental Office with decades of combined experience




Dental Specialties Bldg. 14133 Q Street 402.895.1900

1411 JFK Drive 402.291.6577

Periodontics Dennis M. Anderson Matthew Kelsey

Kelsey Periodontal Group W. Patrick Kelsey V

Kelsey Periodontal Group Timothy P. McVaney

Specialty Dental Care Takanari Miyamoto

Metro West Dental Specialty Group Stacy Lynn Moffenbier

since 2011

Scott L. Morrison Prosthodontics Gerald C. Brundo

Creighton University School of Dentistry Thomas R. Meng, Jr.

Creighton University School of Dentistry Dennis E. Nilsson

Providing our patients with compassionate dental care of the highest quality in a comfortable environment

Creighton University School of Dentistry

Pediatric & General Dentist in One Location

Paul J. Sheridan

Millard Hills Dental Health Center Jared H. Smith


16909 Lakeside Hills Plz # 111 402-884-1828

740 Main St. North Bend, NE 68649 402-652-3670



omaha magazine • july/august 2015

TaylorDentistryOmaha.com to read patient reviews 174th & Maple | 402.333.0274 Family Owned & Operated

Creighton University School of Dentistry Alvin G. Wee

Creighton University School of Dentistry Charles W. Wilcox

Creighton University School of Dentistry


Always Local, Always Beautiful

AT HOME WITH: The Wilsons


J.E. GEORGE BOULEVARD Fourth of July Parade

OUTDOOR LIVING AT ITS BEST omaha magazine • july/august 2015


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Expanded Content On Your Digital Device Watch videos, and view photo galleries of select editorial from OmahaHome magazine.

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1 Download the App Browse the Apple App Store or shop Google Play for the LayAR app.

2 Look for this icon You’ll see the ‘ar’ icon on pages with expanded content. July/August • 2015 | H3 | bestofomaha.com

3 Scan the page Load the LayAR app on your digital device. Hold your phone/table over the entire page to load content.

water features • fire pits & features • hardscapes outdoor living • pool design & poolscapes project management • commercial snow removeal


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Your Complete Design Specialist...

July/August 2015 VOLUME 5  •  ISSUE 4


From Con


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Creative Director JOHN GAWLEY

Best of Omaha Winner 3 Years in a Row!

Director of Photography & Interactive Media BILL SITZMANN Senior Graphic Designer KRISTEN HOFFMAN

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H18 At Home With the Wilsons


H36 Guaranteed to Chase the Blues

H10 Statements

When All is New Again

Outdoor Living at its Best

Editor Letter The Power of Two Painting Pictures With Pavers

H16 Architectural Styles

The Frank Lloyd Wright Stuff


Repurposed Dock Wood Projects

July/August • 2015 | H7 | bestofomaha.com

H26 Home Smarts

Cleaning Tools and Tips

H30 Neighborhoods

J.E. George Boulevard Fourth of July Parade

H44 Transformations

From the Ground Up Crisp. Clean. Contemporary.

July/August 2015 VOLUME 5  •  ISSUE 4

ACCOUNTS Publisher TODD LEMKE Publisher’s Assistant & OmahaHome Contributing Editor SANDY BESCH-MATSON Vice President GREG BRUNS Executive Vice President Sales & Marketing GIL COHEN Senior Sales Executive & 60Plus in Omaha Contributing Editor GWEN LEMKE Branding Specialists KYLE FISHER GEORGE IDELMAN ANGIE HALL Sales Associates JESSICA CULLINANE DAWN DENNIS ALICIA SMITH HOLLINS JUSTIN IDELMAN JESSICA LINHART

402-333-5722 • sw-fence.com

OPERATIONS Vice President of Operations TYLER LEMKE Event Director ERIN COX Accountant HOLLEY GARCIA-CRUZ Distribution Manager MIKE BREWER For advertising & subscription information: 402.884.2000 All versions of OmahaHome are published bimonthly by Omaha Magazine, LTD, P.O. Box 461208, Omaha NE 68046-1208. Telephone: (402) 884-2000; fax (402) 884-2001. Subscription rates: $12.95 for 6 issues (one year), $19.95 for 12 issues (two years). No whole or part of the contents herein may be reproduced without prior written permission of Omaha Magazine, excepting individually copyrighted articles and photographs. Unsolicited manuscripts are accepted, however no responsibility will be assumed for such solicitations. Best of Omaha®™ is a registered tradename of Omaha Magazine. OWNED AND MANAGED BY OMAHA MAGAZINE, LTD

July/August • 2015 | H8 | omahamagazine.com




EADERS OF A certain age will recall a memorable

advertising campaign from the decade that gave us disco, the pet rock, and platform shoes. Certs, we were told like a zillion times during commercial breaks for All in the Family and Charlie’s Angels, are “Two, two, two mints in one!”

Is it a candy mint? Or is it a breath mint? Examining the dual nature of this age-old debate is an existential argument best left to philosophers and other heavy thinkers. And don’t even get us started on the alchemy behind Certs’ mystical “Retsyn" crystals. We are, nonetheless, rather struck by the notion of “the power of two,” so it is with pride that we announce that stewardship over this magazine will now be shared between a pair of talented contributing editors. Regular readers know Sandy Besch-Matson as the seasoned pro who has long guided the editorial direction of OmahaHome. Now added to the mix is Angie Hall and her broad, deep experience in all corners of the home improvement industry. Together they’ll be kickin’ it up a notch in delivering the most compelling content in stories that we hope will inspire you to action in your own home. Welcome aboard, Angie!

“A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous." - COCO CHANEL

David Williams Editor Omaha Magazine david@omahamagazine.com

July/August • 2015 | H9 | bestofomaha.com

OmahaHome • Statements

July/August • 2015 | H10 | omahamagazine.com




45th Ave. in Sarpy County and morphs into Jim Hampton’s driveway—a long, curved gravel path that transports a visitor to hardscape heaven. Medium-sized boulders encircle several flowerbeds on the vast property and a conical-shaped pile of thin rocks called a cairn adds ornamentation, as does a

replica of an ancient petroglyph drawn on a flat, gray rock and hung from a wire stand. But the “wow” factor lies in front of Hampton’s home and illustrates why the father/son team of Jim and Justin Hampton commands worldwide attention. A vast, smooth patio made from interlocking paving stones with  >

July/August • 2015 | H11 | bestofomaha.com

OmahaHome • Statements

Above: Jim and Justin Hampton

<  mosaic-like colorful designs throughout provides stunning beauty. The patio’s centerpiece features a kaleidoscope of swirls that mirror each other, while depictions of three fish lay at the base of a fountain. The patio, built 20 years ago, marks the first collaboration of Jim and Justin as hardscape artists, and signaled a change of direction for Jim. “I was a biology teacher for 16 years at Platteview High in Springfield,” says Jim, 63. But after he and Justin, who laid pavers for another company, finished the patio, “I told my wife, ‘I’m going to quit teaching and do this for a living with Justin.’” Luckily, Christine Hampton was fine with his decision and pitches in by doing the books. Today, Paver Designs LLC fields more requests than the two men can handle, and they don’t even travel outside the immediate area. Pictures of their paver patio designs grace several magazines.   >

July/August • 2015 | H12 | omahamagazine.com



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OmahaHome • Statements

<  This little Omaha company has won Hardscape North America, the biggest award in the industry, four years running, much to the chagrin of big city contractors who employ several crews of laborers. “We’re pretty well known,” says Justin, 38, in his soft-spoken, unassuming way. “I had a guy from Dubai call me and said he wanted to copy some of our projects. I thought he was a telemarketer and hung up on him the first time.” The “guy,” who turned out to be the nephew of Dubai’s ruler, was very much on the level. “I told him he was welcome to pull our designs off our website. He offered to pay us, but I told him to send my kids some souvenirs from Dubai.”

TODAY, PAVER DESIGNS LLC FIELDS MORE REQUESTS THAN THE TWO MEN CAN HANDLE, AND THEY DON’T EVEN TRAVEL OUTSIDE THE IMMEDIATE AREA. Money never overrides Jim and Justin’s love of drawing, excavating, cutting stones, and piecing them together in one-of-a-kind patio installations. They bid on each job and guesstimate the cost, rarely asking for the kind of money they could—or should—command, considering their labor.


For Best Interior Designer & Best Interior Design Firm! Named designated 1 of 50 Retail Stars in the U.S. by Home Accents Today magazine 402.498.8777 12123 Emmet Street thedesignersomaha.com info@designersomaha.com

Hours: Mon-Fri : 9am-6pm Saturday: 10am-2pm July/August • 2015 | H14 | omahamagazine.com

“Those swirling “y” patterns on my patio? There are 12 of them and each one took eight hours to cut in,” says Jim. “People tell me we’re never going to get rich because we don’t have crews who can make us money. But that’s not how I define rich,” he says. For Jim and Justin Hampton, “rich” means the freedom to create, come and go as they please, and spend time with their families— a design for life as structurally sound as their pavers. OmahaHome



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OmahaHome • Architectural Styles

THE FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT STUFF How this landscape inspired the famed work of the Prairie School architects. WORDS BY ROBERT NELSON



house on Dodge Street doesn’t scream Prairie School, but it does quietly carry many of the features of that school of design. Strong horizontal lines; an attention to fine craftsmanship in the center-cut walnut woodwork. Some of the telling features are hidden, though, she says. Over the years, the house has been through a few ill-conceived updates. Piller says she plans to keep renovating to bring the home more in line with the Prairie School aesthetic. “I want to go back to the original Prairie [School] look as much as possible,” she says. “But all that isn’t cheap.”

Wright and the other Prairie School architects promoted the idea of “organic architecture,” meaning, in essence, that the structure should look as if it was a natural part of the landscape it inhabits. There is very little that is vertical in the American prairie. The dominant lines are horizontal. The colors are muted grass and wood tones. A Prairie School structure becomes part of its Midwestern surroundings. Piller’s home near 50th and Dodge streets was built in 1916, not long before Prairie School design began to fall from favor. It’s generally believed that the tumult of World War I caused homebuilders’ attitudes to turn more conservative.

WRIGHT AND THE OTHER PRAIRIE SCHOOL ARCHITECTS PROMOTED THE IDEA OF “ORGANIC ARCHITECTURE,” MEANING, IN ESSENCE, THAT THE STRUCTURE SHOULD LOOK AS IF IT WAS A NATURAL PART OF THE LANDSCAPE IT INHABITS. Prairie School architecture is most associated with the work of Frank Lloyd Wright. But while he is probably the most famous American architect of the time, he was actually one of numerous architects in this country shooting to create a distinctly American design at the end of the 19th century. To some extent, their work was a reaction to the Greek and Roman classicism used in nearly every structure for the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893. This architecture, Wright and his contemporaries believed, said nothing of this land in this time. It was all just an echo of a distant time in a distant place.

In Nebraska, the vast majority of homes built at the time were already very conservative. It was not Prairie School work that dominates the landscape, but rather the simple “Prairie Box.” While Chicago—the birthplace of the design philosophy—brags many homes designed by Wright himself, there are no known Wrightdirected projects in Omaha. Indeed, the only structure designed by Wright in Nebraska is on the other side of the state in McCook. For Wright and Prairie School aficionados, though, the five-hour drive to see the extraordinary Harvey P. Sutton house is well worth the hassle. OmahaHome

July/August • 2015 | H16 | omahamagazine.com


July/August • 2015 | H17 | bestofomaha.com

OmahaHome • At Home

Scan the page with the LayAR app to view more photos of the Wilson home.

July/August • 2015 | H18 | omahamagazine.com

Before images



T ALL STARTED when Omaha’s Advanced Design

& Construction set up temporary residence in Jim and Paula Wilson’s west Omaha neighborhood, where the couple had their own home built in 1997. Some neighbors contracted ADC, a custom designbuild company, for a remodeling project, and the Wilsons were curious. Naturally, when the finished project turned up on a remodel showcase tour in 2013, the Wilsons popped over to see the results. In a small term, inspiration struck. “When you live in a house for a very long time, even though it’s been 14 or 15 years and it’s old, you still think of it as your new house,” Paula says. “But no one else does. It gets dated.” Appliances wear out. Styles change. Kitchens become mishmashes of ’90s fronts and current surfaces. Traditional furniture feels heavy.

Jim realized there were two options: Sell everything as it was and move to a new neighborhood—or city—or update what they had. They loved their neighborhood. They looked for another one like it and couldn’t find a community that felt better. The choice was clear. The Wilsons called ADC. In its embryonic phase, the project was ambitious. The Wilsons proposed moving a wall that separates the living and dining room from their home’s kitchen, plus a separate addition to the house, but from a functional standpoint, the original plan wasn’t feasible. A lot of kitchen storage would’ve been lost in the process of re-creating something more open but still structurally sound, and in the end, a smaller scope offered greater possibility. “We sit down and talk to [homeowners] and find out their wishes and then take those wishes, look at   >

July/August • 2015 | H19 | bestofomaha.com

OmahaHome • At Home

<  the structure, the systems, the adjoining rooms and see what the options are,” says Casey Illian, a partner at ADC. “Once we realize what can and can’t happen, we start plugging everything into a floor plan.” In the case of the Wilsons’ home, the plan became simple: Optimize the functionality of the existing space, update the furnishings and appliances, and “make it pretty,” Illian said. To the last end, ADC brought Interior Design Group’s Anita Wiechman into the project. She started in the kitchen, where she demonstrated for the Wilsons the most efficient number of steps in the classic work triangle—counter to stovetop to sink—to best utilize that space. Now a large, single-piece granite countertop flows along one side of the kitchen across from a fully vented-out gas range with a grill and—at Jim’s request—a wall-mounted pot filler. Every cabinet space has been made efficient, too, with pullout shelves so the Wilsons don’t have to bend down looking for dishes or storage containers lost at the back. The kitchen’s original oak flooring—and the living room’s carpet—were torn out and replaced with more modern, wide-plank hickory flooring. In several key areas, Weichman designed colorful geometric rugs to set the tone and tie the spaces together; traditional furnishings in each room were replaced with fresher transitional pieces. In the living room, a sleek floor-to-ceiling tiled mantel took the place of library paneling, with a clean-burning liner fireplace at the center. Off the entryway, a half-bath boasts textured, hand-painted wallpaper from Lincoln’s Vahallan, complemented by a vessel sink and thick raw-edge black granite countertop. The bathroom originally had a bathtub—one that got used, Paula says, only when she turned on the faucet to rinse out the dust.   >

July/August • 2015 | H20 | omahamagazine.com


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July/August • 2015 | H21 | bestofomaha.com

OmahaHome • At Home

<  ADC removed the tub and gave the Wilsons extra storage space in the room behind—thus giving Jim main-level closet space he hadn’t had in years. (Paula had the main-floor space; Jim had a basement closet.) “Jim Wilson got his closet back,” he beams.

THERE’S A LOT OF PRETTY IN THE WILSONS’ NEW SPACE —PRETTY AND PRACTICAL. Paula got a more efficient closet, too, with segmented shoe storage and pull-down hanging bars that made utilizing floorto-ceiling space possible. Between the closets, the master bath got a new soaker tub instead of a rarely-used whirlpool tub, and a more traditional shower became a zero-entry shower with a subtly sloped easy-drain floor and rain showerhead. In the master bedroom, the Wilson’s Ethan Allen bed sports new linens. There’s a lot of pretty in the Wilsons’ new space—pretty and practical. The fridge is tucked in a flat-panel cabinet. The dining table is substantial but resistant to grandkids’ spills. Mounted angled outlets don’t interrupt backsplashes and designs with holes. “That’s really the name of the game—getting the biggest bang for your buck,” Wiechman adds. Jim put it even more simply.

Left: The living room renovations include open-shelving on which the Wilsons can display treasures. Top: The utility room was made over with a new washer and dryer, along with pops of color for a clean, bright look. Bottom: A soaker tub sees more use than the former whirlpool tub.

“We really enjoy it a lot,” he says.  OmahaHome

July/August • 2015 | H22 | omahamagazine.com

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July/August • 2015 | H23 | bestofomaha.com

OmahaHome • DIY

July/August • 2015 | H24 | omahamagazine.com


The second project I saw from this dock was a beach-themed bar. We previously purchased a bar off Craigslist, knowing it would be repurposed, but we liked the foundation of the piece, and that it has a rail at the bottom that adds to its folksy authenticity.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED For the top:


◊ Hand sander

AKEOVERS ARE OFTEN a case of sink-or-swim, and

this piece was no exception. The crumbling dock of our lakefront home was about to abandon ship as it sagged its way, listing to port, toward a watery grave. Because its faded timbers had been the launching point for so much aquatic fun, the inspiration struck that, even in death, the dock could continue to act as a connection between our home and the lake we so love.  OmahaHome The first project we created from some of the boards was an accent wall. It was so very easy.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED ◊ Weathered dock boards or other reclaimed wood ◊ Saw ◊ Nail gun ◊ (Willing spouse optional)

INSTRUCTIONS ◊ Cut pieces to measure. ◊ Nail them to the wall horizontally, working from top to bottom. ◊ Boom. Done.

◊ 60 grit and 220 grit sandpaper ◊ Two small cans of Rustoleum stain in Kona (dark brown) and Driftwood (light gray) or color scheme of your choice ◊ One small can of clear sealer ◊ One soft rag For the front: ◊ Weathered dock boards ◊ Saw ◊ Nail Gun

INSTRUCTIONS For the top: ◊ Remove the old stain off the top of the bar until the raw material is exposed. To do this, first use the coarse (60 grit) sandpaper, then the fine (220 grit) sandpaper. ◊ Stain the boards in the dark brown (Kona) color twice. Lightly sand in between each coat, giving it a layered/textured look. ◊ Once these two coats have dried, apply a light coat of the gray (Driftwood) color using a soft cloth. ◊ Immediately rub off the gray stain so it does not soak into the boards. Sand lightly again when it has dried to create a streaky look. ◊ When everything is finished, apply a poly acrylic sealer. For the front: ◊ Use the same process as in the wall project–cutting pieces to size and nailing them to the front of the bar.

July/August • 2015 | H25 | bestofomaha.com

OmahaHome • Home Smarts



OUR HOME IS your fortress and keep-

ing it clean is a breeze when you’re armed with these dust-busting tips. Keep a sparkling presence both inside and out of your home to make every day of life but a dream. OmahaHome

HAVE THE PROPER TOOLS Having a well-stocked cleaning caddy can make all of the difference. To fit the bill you will need the following: a window cleaner, a household ammonia for floors, a nonabrasive cleanser for general cleaning, a dilution of 4 parts water to 1 part chlorine bleach for disinfecting, a feather duster, sponges, paper towels and rags, oil soap for wood cabinets, and latex gloves.

MAKE THAT MARBLE SHINE Clean with a spray bottle containing warm water and one tablespoon of non-abrasive dish soap. Never use vinegar or lemon juice. The acids can cause etching. Wipe off with a hot, wet dish towel, taking care not to scrub. Lastly, buff immediately with an absorbent towel or chamois. A pool of water on the surface can leave a stain. And don’t let orange juice, wine, or coffee cup “rings of death” hang around for too long as marble surfaces stain quickly.

July/August • 2015 | H26 | omahamagazine.com

CURTAINS CLOSED Mildew can be an unsightly friend in the shower. Prevent mold growth by occasionally tossing your vinyl or synthetic liner in the washing machine with laundry detergent and bleach.


A ROOM FULL OF BLOOMS Prevent your flowers from getting sour. Add ¼ of teaspoon of bleach to each quart of water in the vase and your beauties will stay fresh and lovely, as they are intended. July/August • 2015 | H27 | bestofomaha.com

To remove a stain from a marble countertop, apply a poultice made with baking soda and water, or flour and a non-abrasive dish soap. It should be the consistency of a thick paste. Apply to the surface then cover the area with plastic wrap. After 24 hours, lift the plastic wrap and use a damp cloth to wipe away the poultice. If the area is still stained, repeat the process. For grease spots, sprinkle corn starch and allow it to absorb for 20 minutes. Wipe away with a damp cloth.


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OmahaHome • Home Smarts

WOOD LAMINATE FLOORING To prevent scratches that can occur from a buildup of excess hair and dirt, use a dry dust mop every few days. Do not use soap-based detergents or “mop and shine” products as they can leave a dull, luster-killing film. For a more in-depth cleaning, fill a bucket with hot water and add two tablespoons of baby shampoo or a mild liquid dish detergent. Scented or dyed dish detergents can damage the laminate or cause streaks. Soak and thoroughly wring out a mop. Excess water can distort your laminate flooring. What about those scuff marks? A common pencil eraser is your best friend here.


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PET HAIR, BEWARE Vacuuming up pet hair doesn’t quite do the trick. Use a longhandled window squeegee on your carpets. The rubber will loosen the embedded hair. Next, collect the clumps that accumulate. Repeat until all hair has vanished.

July/August • 2015 | H29 | bestofomaha.com

OmahaHome • Neighborhoods


Kick off Independence Day the Old-Fashioned Way


July/August • 2015 | H30 | omahamagazine.com

Sophie Goochbeard, a 5-year-old golden retriever, beats the heat at the 2014 J.E. George Boulevard Fourth of July parade with a sip of water from "mom," Elaine Flaxbeard Gucciullo. Sophie's last name is a play on Elaine's married (Gucciullo) and maiden (Flaxbeard) names.



experience a small-town parade in the middle of Omaha, look no further. This summer marks the 65th annual J.E. George Boulevard Fourth of July Parade. The parade was founded in 1950 by residents Bob and Lu Adwers. Children don festive costumes in the Americana theme, dress up their dogs, and grab wagons, tricycles, and other forms of transportation for a joyous display of patriotic pride. J.E. George Boulevard is a stately, tree-lined thoroughfare just north of Memorial Park. It gets its namesake from early Omaha real estate developer John Edward George. According to the Douglas County Historical Society, he was a member of the city planning commission who played a big role in the St. Mary’s Avenue grading project.   >

July/August • 2015 | H31 | bestofomaha.com

OmahaHome • Neighborhoods

Long before visitors gather in the shaded walks of J.E. George Boulevard, neighbors and friends enjoy the calm before the storm with patriotic spreads of doughnuts, cakes, and other breakfast pastries.

Ken Molacek is a founding member of the J.E. George Navy Band, which has been "providing festive music since 1982."

<  League of Women Voters of Greater Omaha President Peggy Adair participated in the parade for her first time last year. “I’m from west Omaha and I love this. It’s like old home. It just makes you smile to be here,” she says. Many local politicians also join in the fun by marching in the parade wearing brightly colored campaign slogan tees and passing out stickers. Each year there is a grand marshal and special guests invited. Past grand marshals have included longtime J.E. George Boulevard resident Barbara Raffensperger and Godfather’s Pizza founder Willy Thiesen. Past special guests included TV personalities Bill Randby and Gary Kerr, and radio personality Tom Becka. The J.E. George Navy Band has also been a popular attraction of the parade since the 1980s. Each year Sandy Wray of Elkhorn attends the parade with her sister, Terry Price. Price is a J.E. George Boulevard resident who is active in the community and serves as the Neighborhood Watch point person. “I think it’s just great that we honor our country,” Wray says.   >

July/August • 2015 | H32 | omahamagazine.com

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July/August • 2015 | H33 | bestofomaha.com

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OmahaHome • Neighborhoods

Maia Classe won last year's 7-and-up costume contest with this mock-up of the U.S. Capitol building.

This spectator appeared to enjoy the annual July 4 parade on J.E. George Boulevard, but refused to comment or even provide a name.


<  “It’s a good way, I think, for the kids to learn some traditions about our country and keep that alive instead of thinking it’s just a way for them to party.” The parade begins to assemble at 9:30 a.m. at the corner of J.E. George Boulevard and Western Avenue. The parade begins at 10 a.m. and moves south down J.E. George Boulevard, ending with a celebration at Memorial Park. Prizes are awarded at the baseball diamond for best costumes and floats. Joe Pepitone of Bloom Companion Care has been emceeing the parade for more than five years. “All of the kids have a great time. It’s really important that they get a chance to showcase their hard work, putting together their floats and their costumes, and get a prize,” Pepitone says. “It’s really all about the kids,” he reflects. OmahaHome

July/August • 2015 | H34 | omahamagazine.com



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OmahaHome • Feature

Scan the page with the LayAR app to view a virtual tour of the Intieri home.

July/August • 2015 | H36 | omahamagazine.com



T’S BAD FORM to upstage the guest of

honor at any social gathering, but Natallia Intrieri had more than a little competition at her recent high school graduation party. That’s because the Elkhorn South High School graduate, soon headed for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, was up against the oohs and aahs that accompanied a christening of the stunning outdoor living space at the home she shares with parents Mike and DeAnn Intrieri on the banks of West Shores Lake. “We’ve always wanted a pool,” Mike says, “but when we moved out here we thought that the lake would act as the water we were seeking.” “But it’s just not the same,” DeAnn adds. “Our back yard was this huge blank slate that we just stared at for the longest time wondering what to do with. We considered building a pretty extensive deck out here, but that idea seemed the opposite of what we had in mind. A deck, we felt, would somehow separate us from the lake, not connect us to it.”   >

July/August • 2015 | H37 | bestofomaha.com

OmahaHome • Feature

When the light is just right, the pool, lake, and sky merge seamlessly in creating a blue, bluer, bluest panorama. <  The result, especially on a clear day when the light is just so, finds the pool, lake, and sky welded seamlessly together in a blue, bluer, bluest canvas for the home occupying a jutting point that affords dramatic vistas with 180-degree views. “It’s funny how so many outdoor projects begin indoors,” says Burton Kilgore of Nature’s Intent, who tag-teamed with KC Barth of Artisan Pools in executing the effort. “The inspiration came from the home’s Tuscan/Mediterranean theme and decor. We took those same motifs outdoors and incorporated them into the design. Then we added layers of depth and visual interest in landscaping and other elements to form a cohesive space that works with the land instead of fighting against it." In order to conform to the landscape, the various surfaces are situated on different planes. Even though the elevations rise in increments of only a few inches at a time in a gentle progression, the overall effect delivers subtle, eye-tricking “wow” not found in flat, single-surface configurations. “That’s the nature of custom work,” adds Barth. “Creating different topographical focal points is key in a project like this. Hillsides and sloping areas were once considered spaces waiting be leveled. We look at them as design opportunities that give us a way to create drama.”   >

July/August • 2015 | H38 | omahamagazine.com

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OmahaHome • Feature

Water surrounds the Intrieri’s home on three sides. The various pool surfaces are situated on different planes rising in increments of only a few inches at a time in a gentle progression. <  Providing contrast to a carefully curated color palate are chocolate-hued border pavers. Add to that mocha-tinged mulch and contemporary tiki torches rendered in black steel instead of the customarily blonde bamboo, and the scene is balanced by just the right amount of contrast in these and other elements that serve to define the space without hemming it in.


-Natallia Intrieri

The Tuscan-inspired home and its warm, mustardy hues is a wholly intentional nod to Mike’s heritage as the son of an Italianborn father who once toiled in the sweltering cauldrons of Pittsburgh steel mills. Harmony is the keyword in this outdoor living space. After all, how could this most serene of settings engender anything but a calming, loll-around-all-day vibe? The only hint of strife the day of Omaha Magazine’s visit was a minor disagreement on whose brainstorm it was to install the gracefully arcing pergola that anchors one end of the grounds.   >

July/August • 2015 | H40 | omahamagazine.com

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July/August • 2015 | H41 | bestofomaha.com

OmahaHome • Feature

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<  Mike claims that it was an idea he stumbled upon during a visit to an upscale hotel during one of his many business travels. DeAnn insists otherwise. Natallia, with a roll of the eyes reserved by young people exclusively for their parents, took the opportunity to move the interview to the mechanical panel that manipulates the many inset lighting nodes and gurgling water features that are best experienced long into a summer’s eve over s'mores prepared above the glowing embers of the fire pit. Not to be outdone, Mike took the helm in manipulating an array of switches to demonstrate various functionalities, but, still relatively new at this high-tech game, his attempt to activate something over there more often than not brought to life something over here. Insert second playful, “Oh-Dad-style” eye roll here, this time joined by a cheerful wink from DeAnn.


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“Well, you get the idea,” Mike beams with a shrug in jocular resignation. Natallia had been mildly concerned about gate crashers at her graduation party, but only those of the amphibian kind. Unwelcome guests so far have been limited to curious (and who can blame ‘em?) frogs coming up from the lake for a midnight splash in the pool.

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July/August • 2015 | H42 | omahamagazine.com

“This place is having us rethinking the whole idea of taking vacations,” says DeAnn as Mike and Natallia nod in agreement. “Why bother going away,” Natallia adds, “when we have the nicest resort imaginable right in our own back yard?” OmahaHome

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OmahaHome • Transformations

July/August • 2015 | H44 | omahamagazine.com


Transformations is a regular feature of Omaha Home that spotlights a recent project by a local ASID interior designer. The copy and photos are provided by the designer. Homeowners’ names may be withheld for privacy.

FROM THE GROUND UP Crisp. Clean. Contemporary.



OU KNOW WHAT I like.” The expres-

sion repeatedly danced off the tongue of our client throughout the months of planning and preparing that went into building her family’s new home in west Omaha. Good thing…a tried-and-true, trusting relationship between client and designer is critical to the success of any design project. After helping this couple with a few previous homes, designer Nancy Pesavento, ASID, owner of Interiors Joan and Associates, did indeed know just what they liked.   >

July/August • 2015 | H45 | bestofomaha.com

OmahaHome • Transformations

<  Working with Advanced Design & Construction (ADC), Pesavento guided her clients as they navigated the transition from a woodsy, earth toned, deeply traditional home to a new, more contemporary residence. Crisp and clean, the new home perfectly answers the client’s request for a sleek, upscale design; a home that allows them to function day in and day out; and provides comfortable, convenient living spaces.

CRISP AND CLEAN, THE NEW HOME PERFECTLY ANSWERS THE CLIENT’S REQUEST FOR A SLEEK, UPSCALE DESIGN. The home’s entry is defined by an exquisite chandelier, resembling a modern flurry of iron, whirled together, setting the tone for the home’s whole design concept. A linear iron rail and custom front doors complete the space. The focal wall in the great room, featuring a horizontal fireplace encased in natural travertine stone and flanked by natural walnut shelving, anchors the entire main living space. Perfectly accessorized, the shelves embody the home’s “less is more” attractiveness. One’s hands can’t help but gravitate to the sumptuous fabrics that upholster the sofas, chairs, and pillows in the great room. Soft velvets, leathers, and natural textures in shades of pumice, white, charcoal gray, cerulean blue, and citron compose the home’s sophisticated color palette. An open floor plan exposes the kitchen and dining space to the main living area in the home; and the selection of natural walnut wood with horizontal grain detailing and glass display niches creates elegant cabinetry meant to be an artistic display case. The design left no detail unattended…two colors of quartz visually separate the preparation and dining spaces of the kitchen island while allowing the surface to remain on one plane. A chrome plate under the countertop, linear hardware, sparkling pendant lights, and an architectural backsplash reinforce the home’s sleek appearance. Glass paneled pocket doors slide open to reveal a large room adjacent to the kitchen and dining area. This flex space, outfitted to function as an office, a space   > July/August • 2015 | H46 | omahamagazine.com

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Lest We Forget The Legacy of Potter Field


otter Field: It’s a lonely

sounding pair of words for an even lonelier place. The phrase dates to the Bible, when fields once strip-mined for potting soil were used as pauper’s graves. For thousands of years, cities all over the world have buried their poor—often with little or no fanfare—in such forlorn places that often share the simple name of Potter Field. Graves in such cemeteries rarely bear markers. Omaha has a Potter Field just north of Forest Lawn Cemetery in Florence. The origins of the cemetery are suitably murky, but may date back to 1846, the start of an arduous few years of the Mormon migration westward, a trek which cost a reported 359 lives. Potter Field is situated just outside of the Mormon settlement of Cutler’s Park, and a Brigham Young University webpage speculates that Potter Field was the burial site of the Cutler’s Park dead. According to most sources, Potter Field became an official city entity in 1887, but mentions of it date back further. A brief item in an October 1885 issue of the Omaha Daily

Herald (a predecessor of the Omaha WorldHerald) mentions the County Commissioners deflected rumors that grave robbers took bodies from Potter Field to be dissected by medical students. A few days later, authorities at the Omaha Medical College contradicted this, saying they had, in fact, received three bodies from the cemetery. The space was the burial site for W.W. Lynch, an Omaha carpenter and one of the area’s early murder victims. He was killed in 1887 by an Iowa farmer named Lutz in a gun-and-knife battle at a downtown theater. The cause of the fight was Lutz’s wife, who had abandoned him more than a year earlier to take up with Lynch. And so the cycle of misery began. Potter Field found many of its residents victims of terrible circumstances, everything from foul play to abject poverty. According to the website Find A Grave, at least 3,912 people were buried there. Some have been relocated over time, but 2,135 remain. While the graves are often unmarked, the names of all but 108 of the dead are preserved in various records.

Abandoned by Douglas County in 1957, Potter Field lay unattended for a decade until the mid-1960s, when local Boy Scout troops made an annual event of tending to the cemetery. The county has since resumed maintenance. The most famous resident of Potter Field is Willie Brown, the victim of Omaha’s 1919 riots in which an estimated 4,000 Omahans laid siege on the Douglas County Courthouse. They were after Brown, an imprisoned African-American accused of accosting a white woman. The mob set fire to the building. Pock marks from shotgun blasts fired that night still pepper the fine marble of the rotunda. Mayor Ed Smith refused to surrender Brown and was lynched, but cut down by police. Brown was also lynched. For many years the exact location of his burial site had been a mystery. In 2009 a Californian donated money to locate and mark Brown’s grave. His plot now carries a marker with words that equally apply to many of his eternal neighbors— “Lest We Forget.”  OMAG omaha magazine • july/august 2015



Life in the Nebraska Sandhills What a Tiny Town Can Teach About Living…and Loving


ebraska’s pioneering spirit shines brightly along

the I-80 corridor, which follows the vast open spaces of the Great Plains. If travelers hurriedly passing through the state thinking, “Yep, this is Nebraska,” took the time to veer off the well-beaten path and steer the car northwest, they would discover a landscape unlike any other and a lifestyle steeped in the tradition of the frontier.  > continued on page 120

by carol crissey nigrelli  •  photography by scott drickey

“Life here? It’s a beautiful gift.” - Joel jacobs

omaha magazine • july/august 2015



continued from page 118 <  Heading up Nebraska Highway 97 just above North Platte, the topography changes dramatically. The flat farmland graduates into clusters of enormous sand dunes—miles of them. Anchored by a variety of prairie grasses and etched by relentless winds over thousands of years, the all but treeless Sandhills rise up like waves of an ocean—a phenomenon not seen anywhere else in the Western Hemisphere. Blue sky, dotted with puffy cotton balls of clouds, stretches as far as the eye can see before dipping down and hugging hills on the distant horizon. Under this protective dome lies nature at its purest, virtually untouched by civilization. This, too, is Nebraska—western Nebraska, where life mirrors the land: simple, unaffected, and humble. The bloodlines of the Sandhills run deep in Joel Jacobs, going back five generations. The 34-year old Omaha investment manager grew up where Route 97 meets Highway 2 in Mullen, the only town in Hooker County (named after a Civil War general), and, by default, the county seat. It also serves as a center of commerce. The Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway, known as “Mr. Buffett’s train” by the locals, roars past the house Joel grew up in every 10 minutes or so, 24 hours a day, carrying car after car of coal eastward from Wyoming. In a town of less than 500 people in a county with a population density of one person per square mile, the sharp blast of a train whistle represents employment, not a nuisance. But small town doesn’t mean small time. Like many young people in Mullen, Jacobs excelled in sports, quarterbacking his high school’s eight-man football team (the salvation of deep rural areas) to a state championship in 1998. He continued to make a name for himself as a tight end at the University of Nebraska-Kearney—a Division II school— resulting in a free agent contract with the NFL. He spent the bulk of his pro career with the New England Patriots and NFL Europe. When injuries cut his football dreams short, he and his wife, Megan, moved to Omaha, a city big enough to launch a successful financial career, yet only five hours, 334 miles, and one time zone away from the land he loves—and a town that still thinks of him primarily as Jodi and Kirk Jacobs’s son.  > continued on page 122 120

omaha magazine • july/august 2015

life in the sand hills

omaha magazine • july/august 2015



continued from page 120 <  “I grew up with the feeling that no matter how bad things can get, everything’s going to be okay,” says Joel, finishing the thought with the flip side, “But no matter how good things are, you’re no better than anyone else.” Humility ranks high on a wish list for his three young children. “That’s why I like to bring them here as often as I can. I want them to know this kind of stability.” For Jacobs, stability includes spending time with his grandparents, Jake and Bunny Jacobs. The couple, celebrating 70 years of marriage in August, still live independently on the 3,000-acre ranch just south of town where Bunny, born Berneice (e before i) Taylor, grew up. “My father bought this land in the early 1930s during the Sand Bowl,” says Bunny, sharp as a tack at 91 and, with a rollicking sense of humor, referring to the Sandhills’ version of the Dust Bowl. Like most settlers in the valley, her father quickly realized crops don’t grow in sand. Raising her index finger a couple of inches above her thumb, Bunny says, “The corn only grew this high.” But cattle could thrive on the prairie grasses, providing Bunny, who inherited the ranch, and Jake a means to support a family. Until the family grew. “By the time they had four kids, my dad went to work for Consolidated Telephone to bring in some more money,” explains Kirk Jacobs, referring to another big employer in Mullen. Kirk also holds a customer service job with Consolidated while maintaining the day-to-day operations on the ranch. Work never ends in the Sandhills. On a wickedly gusty Friday, two cattle haulers drive onto the ranch, each carrying 50 head of Angus cows and their new calves. “They’ll graze here for the next five months before going back to a feed lot in Kearney,” says Kirk in his understated way. With the bovine visitors safely grazing in their new digs, Kirk and Joel head out to the east pasture, checking miles and miles of barbed wire for gaps. Stopping at a well on the property, Kirk fills a water bottle. “Freshest water you’ll ever taste,” he says. “We’re right on top of the Ogallala Aquifer.” For people who exhibit no pretensions, life flows in a natural rhythm, like the waters of the Middle Loup River where the Jacobs family gathers for a twilight “tanking” adventure. Floating down the river in a large, round, metal water tank normally found in  > continued on page 124 122

omaha magazine • july/august 2015

life in the sand hills

omaha magazine • july/august 2015



continued from page 122 <  pastures to water the livestock provides family fun at a reasonable cost—nothing. Joel’s wife, two older children, mother, sister, brother-in-law, and their two kids sit side-byside in the tank as he and his father navigate the swift current with oars, dodging tree limbs and driftwood obstructing their path. Amid the gales of laughter as the tank bounces off canyons of sand that form the riverbank, Joel’s mother and sister, Kelly Marsh, 124

omaha magazine • july/august 2015

pass around homemade, individually-wrapped ham and chicken paninis, miniature quiches, and pickle bites wrapped in salami and cheese. Taking care of her family brings Jodi Jacobs joy. “I always wanted a big family and Kirk and I have four of our own,” she says softly, cradling a grandchild in her arms. “I love to cook. I love to entertain. And I love it when the kids come home.” That passion recently led to the fulfillment of a dream: Jodi opened a restaurant, The

Nebraska Pantry, conveniently located next to the town’s only grocery store along Mullen’s main street. She rises at 4:30 every morning to make bacon, sausage, eggs, pancakes, waffles, biscuits and gravy, and daily lunch specials for her many regulars, adding credence to the belief that hard work and low stress can trump cholesterol any time. Jodi’s culinary talents extend beyond Mullen. She makes a line of Nebraska Pantry gourmet dip mixes, sold in Omaha at Scheel’s

life in the sand hills

Sporting Goods and Sugar Bakers gourmet store. In addition, Jodi somehow finds the time to work in the pro shop of the Sand Hills Golf Club, one of two top-rated, private golf courses located in Mullen (the second being Dismal River). “I’d say about 75 percent of the current PGA has played here at Sand Hills,” says Joel, as he surveys the wind-swept, Ben Crenshaw-designed course nestled deep in the sand dunes. “It’s ranked number one in the

country and number 11 in the world. Players come here to enjoy their game in privacy.” Standing on the portico of the starter’s cabin nicknamed Ben’s Porch, Joel takes in the magnificent scenery so familiar to him. “Life here? It’s a beautiful gift,” he says, almost to himself, as he anticipates the return trip to Omaha. The land and the serenity it brings will lure Joel back again and again. And his children will someday discover what their dad already

knows: some of the richest lives on earth are lived in tiny Mullen, Nebraska.   OMAG

omaha magazine • july/august 2015



by david williams  •  laurie and charles photographs

Back in Black “Women who wear black,” Neiman Marcus once quipped, “live colorful lives.”


roving marcus’ point

in the sort of simple, clean elegance that dwells in that nether region between the bold and the understated (both?) are Jacki and Anastasia Lasley, proprietors of The Clothier’s Daughters in Rockbrook Village.  OMAG


omaha magazine • july/august 2015

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“It isn’t a sport for someone who wants to stand out. You have to do exactly what everyone else does, when everyone else does.” - ray griggs 128

omaha magazine • july/august 2015

by daisy hutzell-rodman  •  photography by bill sitzmann

Searching for Simpatico Rowing Thrives in Omaha


he waters of Lake Manawa are

dead still. It’s 5:30 a.m. and nearly 50 young women are about to disturb the pristine, glass-like surface. They are the Creighton University rowing team and part of a small but active rowing community in Omaha.  > continued on page 130

omaha magazine • july/august 2015




the new


omaha magazine • july/august 2015



continued from page 129 <  Ray Griggs serves as boatman for the Creighton team and is a master rower with Omaha Rowing Association (ORA), which boasts about 40 members. He talks about rowing as though born with an oar in hand, yet he never rowed before age 18. Griggs’ introduction came in 1976 upon joining the Naval Academy, where participating in sports is required. “I got a postcard from the rowing coach,” Griggs says. “I tried to walk on to the football team. After two weeks, I was cut, at which point I immediately ran to the boathouse. I ran up to whoever looked like he was in charge and he says, ‘OK, get in a boat.’” Rowers frequently exude that same “join us,” attitude. “Are you coming to see us Saturday?” asks Creighton assistant coach Catherine SaarelaIrvin with a grin. The team was hosting a regional competition at Carter Lake that coming weekend. It was a rare chance to see rowing locally. The Creighton team travels as far away as Dallas to compete. Saarela-Irvin also rows at a master’s level with ORA, where she coaches kids age 12 to 18. The ORA often competes in the Master’s National, which this year will be held in Camden, New Jersey. The welcoming spirit comes from a total team sport that creates lifelong bonds. Ninety percent of the Creighton team never

creighton university rowing team

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Call today to schedule your next eye exam! participated in the sport before college. Many plan to row as long as they can, joining club teams such as ORA. “I’ve picked it up anywhere I go,” says Saarela-Irvin. “I’ve rowed in New Hampshire, San Diego, and now Omaha.” “It isn’t a sport for someone who wants to stand out,” Griggs explains. “You have to do exactly what everyone else does, when everyone else does.” Rowing involves synchronous movement of the arms, legs, and cores of the body. Rowers cannot see where they are headed. In eight-person boats, and sometimes in four-person boats, a coxswain (pronounced cox-sin) sits at the stern and calls commands; without a coxswain, the rower at the bow steers and commands so the boat glides in the proper direction. It’s a quiet, serene sport, even though the physicality of it demands a grueling combination of strength and endurance. Only the person steering speaks, and the silent rowers enter their own private worlds as they pull and push the boat through the water in a zen-like cadence. They collectively hope for “swing”, that precise moment when perfect synchronicity is achieved and the group moves as one. “We call it the magical row,” Griggs says. “You’ve got this simpatico thing happening,” adds Saarela-Irvin. “It’s really neat… kind of like flying on the water.”  OMAG


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omaha magazine • july/august 2015


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Born in the Wrong Generation Brent La Rue

“People mention all the time, ‘That’s so awesome you know how to do that.’ I’m like, ‘I didn’t know how to do that…I lied to you. I told you I knew how to do it. I fixed your window. It’s fixed, but I didn’t know how to do it—I just figured it out.’” - Brent La Rue


e’s Ernest Hemingway

meets James Dean meets Indiana Jones. He’s an autodidact, a Mr. Fixit. He’s ruggedly chic, well-read, and when he does cool stuff, you won’t find it sensationalized on Facebook or Instagram. He also rides a motorcycle and travels most of the year. And I once watched him floss his teeth with a dollar bill.  > continued on page 134 omaha magazine • july/august 2015



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“So many things throughout the weird experiences I’ve had traveling and living on the road, and working on the road, all kind of culminate in creating things that are long,

continued from page 133 <  Brent La Rue was probably born in the wrong generation, exiled from the era that made them like they used to. But if the 30-year-old founder of La Rue Leather is supposed to exist in our time, it just might be to remind us that things were once built to last. “My thing is: I want to buy it once. I want to buy it for life,” La Rue explains while we peruse his basement workshop, lukewarm beers in hand. It’s a principle that the craftsman says he’s instilled into his leather goods business, which he’s slowly burnished over the past few years. Surrounded by old tools and Old Milwaukee empties, La Rue shows me his stock of lifetime Dopp kits and hoof-pick satchels that he designs and makes by hand. Each bag in this bunch features English bridle leather—purchased from a tannery that’s been around for almost 150 years—and solid brass hardware that La Rue shapes in-house. “I can give a lifetime guarantee and know that in 100 years if somebody’s still alive and making these bags, and somebody sends something in, we can order it,” he says. “They [the materials] are not going away, they are not disappearing.” As for the La Rue Leather brand name, he explains that it describes more than just a man putting his name to his work. The

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lifetime goods and trying to design things that— I want to avoid the word ‘timeless’—but are always appealing.” - Brent La Rue

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double-entendre is also French for “the road,” which is where he says his business was initially founded. “So many things throughout the weird experiences I’ve had traveling and living on the road, and working on the road,” La Rue says, “all kind of culminate in creating things that are long, lifetime goods and trying to design things that—I want to avoid the word ‘timeless’—but are always appealing.” We’re about halfway through our beers when La Rue pulls out the bag that started it all: the leather satchel that he hand-stitched fireside somewhere in the Shasta-Trinity mountain region of Northern California many years ago. It looks like it belongs in a museum. And its origin story sounds like it belongs in an epic. But with La Rue’s old soul and wild spirit, perhaps all of his tales should one day receive the Homeric treatment. Until then, our protagonist is going to continue workin’ and livin’, and makin’ leather goods the only way he knows how: “People mention all the time, ‘That’s so awesome you know how to do that.’ I’m like, ‘I didn’t know how to do that…I lied to you. I told you I knew how to do it,” La Rue muses. “’I fixed your window. It’s fixed, but I didn’t know how to do it—I just figured it out.”  OMAG

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by james vnuk • photography by bill sitzmann

omaha magazine • july/august 2015

In For The Bees, Out For The Honey. Gary Kula

“Beekeeping is a learning tool. I’m always learning something new about bees, and I love showing others.” - Gary Kula


t’s fitting that, driving through

scenic back roads to beekeeper Gary Kula’s home in a tiny, pastoral hideaway just on the city’s south edge, the song “Country Honey” by 70s glam rockers T-Rex plays. It certainly fed my lively expectations in meeting Kula on a bright, nearly-spring afternoon: our first interaction was by phone, where he amicably remarked, “whatever helps the bees get more exposure,” which summoned up visions of slick showbiz agents. I felt I was driving out not to meet Kula, but the Bees; in a royal “we” sense, queen and all.  > continued on page 138 omaha magazine • july/august 2015



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continued from page 137 <  In truth, Kula is a mild-mannered bee enthusiast. A beekeeper for five years now, Kula is a previous president of the Omaha Bee Club and runs the Youtube channel “Generalbomax,” dedicated to beekeeping tricks of the trade. Beyond that, he’s a veteran police officer for the City of Omaha, having spent nine years as a narcotics officer before trading the street for a seat as a polygraph examiner. Kula is also the city’s man of action when it comes to all things beerelated, responding to 911 calls for swarms and other perils. “This is my excitement now,” he cheerily told me, “though I get a lot of razzing from the other officers when the news claims I’ve rounded up 10,000 fugitives.” We suited up in traditional beekeeper veils, and he showed me his beehives under the cover of smoky, burning brush. Kula is a wellspring of bee knowledge: The smoke masks their alarm pheromone. Some factoids uncover a mindful, zen-like side to him: The queen doesn’t choose if the eggs are male or female; the hive does. Some beg comparison to his life on the beat, reminiscent of Mafioso pulp: Russian and Italian bees are the most aggressive. It’s hard not to draw parallels between the life of a cop and that of a beekeeper, though 138

omaha magazine • july/august 2015

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402.399.9233 | www.sparklingklean.com harvesting a hive for its succulents may hold a smidgen less danger and intrigue than busting methamphetamine operations. “Nobody likes you coming through their home and dumping out their dresser drawers for cocaine,” Kula says. Still, the bees will make you pay if you accidentally squish a few of them when combing through their hive, he informs me. “I had one follow me all the way around the house, one time.” Ultimately though, Kula sees the bees as virtuous creatures. “Beekeeping is a learning tool. I’m always learning something new about bees, and I love showing others. It’s my hope they’ll teach their kids, too.” Chiefly, he’s concerned about education and promoting awareness about bees. Most bees won’t hurt you, and during menacing swarms they are at their most docile. “It’s rewarding working with bees. The accomplishment I feel with them is like how I feel when encountering past drug addicts I’ve helped rescue.” He and the Omaha Bee Club love supporting keepers, and have brought over five million bees into Omaha over the last five years. On that note, Kula left me with some advice for any would-bee keepers, perhaps to the dismay of T-Rex: “get in for the bees, get out for the honey. Once you’re that far invested, it becomes too commercial.”  OMAG

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by doug meigs  •  photography by bill sitzmann


he founder of Bold Nebraska—

Jane Fleming Kleeb—travels to Omaha once a week. Although the Nebraska transplant lives in Hastings, she has grown accustomed to the five-hour round-trip drive on I-80. “I call it my windshield time. It’s quiet,” says the liberal firebrand who has gained national notoriety fighting construction of the Keystone XL, a 1,179-mile pipeline slated to transport daily 830,000 barrels of diluted crude bitumen from Canadian tar sands across central Nebraska to gulf coast processing facilities.  > continued on page 142 140

omaha magazine • july/august 2015

Scan this page with the LayAR app to view more photos from the shoot with Jane Kleeb.


continued from page 140 <  “The Lakota call the proposed Keystone XL the Black Snake Pipeline,” says Greg Grey Cloud, a pipeline opponent who describes himself as an indigenous defender. For the Lakota, the black snake represents nothing less than a reset button on the creation clock. “For over a thousand years, our spiritual leaders have prophesied that a great black snake will one day wind through the land, bringing doom by robbing us of our natural resources as Grandmother Earth remakes herself and introduces a new coming.”

jane kleeb

one political voice” and “dominated by farright ideas and policies.” Focus will shift once courts confirm the pipeline’s fate. Bold Nebraska is already preparing, surveying supporters on the next social and legislative battles to prioritize. Omaha’s liberal (by Nebraska standards) political atmosphere has fostered an important support base for Bold Nebraska. Out of approximately 25,500 Facebook fans and 40,000 email subscribers, 25 percent hail from the metro area, says Mark Hefflinger,

“For over a thousand years, our spiritual leaders have prophesied that a great black snake will one day wind through the land, bringing doom by robbing us of our natural resources as Grandmother Earth remakes herself and introduces a new coming.” - Greg Grey Cloud For years, TransCanada has been planning to build the Keystone XL across Nebraska’s fragile Sandhills ecosystem and the deepunderground Ogallala Aquifer. Eminent domain lawsuits have plagued the pipeline’s route across much of the United States, and courts have ruled against taxpaying landowners in favor of the foreign corporation. Thanks to Kleeb’s activism with Bold Nebraska, the Keystone XL has stalled outside of the Cornhusker State. Kleeb is a pipeline-fighting road warrior. She has visited the stripped boreal forests of Alberta where the tar sand oil originates. She has seen TransCanada seize lands in Texas and South Dakota. Her regular trips across rural Nebraska to meet with landowners and frequent cross-country speaking engagements make her Omaha commute time seem insignificant. The Keystone XL has consumed Bold Nebraska’s attention since its inception five years ago. Kleeb says her agenda is all about progressive and populist politics. According to the Bold Nebraska website, the organization’s mission is to “mobilize new energy to restore political balance” in a state “dominated by 142

omaha magazine • july/august 2015

Bold Nebraska’s communications director. A local Omaha brewpub was the logical place for Kleeb to launch Bold’s latest initiative: a statewide network map of local businesses branded “In the Neb.” She arrives early in the afternoon. Bumper stickers on the back of her minivan—a beige Honda Odyssey— reveal her double-life. The 42-year-old activist is also a soccer mom with three daughters. A flaming soccer ball decal represents her eldest (age 14) daughter’s team alongside a slew of anti-pipeline and environmental slogans. She steps onto Farnam Street in midtown wearing a white dress, suit jacket, and custom red leather cowboy boots (the boots are covered with grey leather crane silhouettes, a nod to the Sandhills where her husbands’ ancestors had homesteaded). Her hair is a short, no-fuss style symbolic of her life’s always-on-the-go pace. Hoops of turquoise beadwork, made by members of the Omaha Tribe, hang from her ears, matching the turquoise rings on her fingers, gifts from husband Scott Kleeb. She walks into Archetype Coffee with a burst of friendly energy and an armful of promotional material. She has one hour before introducing her “In the Neb.” concept

at Farnam House Brewing Company a few blocks away. “In the Neb.” consists of an interactive online map and mobile app promoting small and local businesses: family farms, breweries, boutiques, clean energy vendors, farmers markets, etc. Omaha and Lincoln residents are the primary target users— “because in small towns, you know who sells eggs,” Kleeb says—but rural communities could also use the effort to source urban Nebraska-made products. “In order to get on the map, you have to agree on some values, things like we want to see 25 percent of our energy coming from renewables by 2025, and that the Ogallala aquifer should be a protected water source,” Kleeb says. The network of businesses would also provide a pool of supporters for Bold Nebraska when pushing bills of interest to small farms or clean energy interests in the state legislature. The local bar meet-up for debuting the project might also become a regular thing. Kleeb hopes it will be the first in a series of political talks called “Politics and Pints.” The business map and barroom talks are indicative of Kleeb’s innovative approach to activism. “Creative actions are super important to us; we draw a lot of inspiration from the Omaha creative community,” says Kleeb, noting that Omaha native Justin Kemerling is Bold Nebraska’s main designer. Kleeb’s lifestyle bridges Nebraska’s urbanrural disconnect. She and Scott are renovating a farm in Ayr and hope to move in by next year. The property is located en route to Red Cloud, Willa Cather’s hometown south of Hastings. They named their youngest “Willa,” (age 4) after the iconic Nebraska author. To manage their chaotic schedules, the couple sit together once a month to block off their shared Google calendar. Her husband, once an aspiring Nebraska politician, is now the president and CEO of Omaha-based Pioneer Energy Solutions and its 50 employees. He makes the long Hastings-to-Omaha commute even more frequently than his wife. “I keep trying to twist his arm to get a loft apartment in Omaha or Lincoln,” she says. “When we started Bold, one of the things we wanted to do was to connect our rural communities—often rooted in agriculture, small family farms, and ranches—to the creative class in Omaha,” she says.  > continued on page 144

In a move of defiant, I-dare-you-to-tearme-down bravado, the solar-paneled Build Our Energy Barn near York, Neb., was intentionally erected directly in the path of the pipeline.

“This structure provides energy to Nebraska. That’s something the pipeline will never do.” - Jane Kleeb


jane kleeb

continued from page 142 <  “There is a lot that we can learn from each other, and, from my perspective, there isn’t this ridiculous divide that everyone tries to say there is when you start visiting with people (rural vs. urban Nebraskans).” Bold Nebraska organized a Neil Young and Willie Nelson concert last September. “Harvest the Hope” was situated in a cornfield near Neligh on the pipeline route. The event drew roughly 1,700 Omahans out of 8,500 spectators. A winter season passed, and Kleeb just completed a new creative action on the same cornfield where concertgoers had parked their vehicles. Bold created a 15-acre crop art message for the White House, a replica of the presidential seal that reads “Climate Legacy #NOKXL.” “My body is still sore,” she says, recalling the previous week’s work of placing flags for the image’s tractor and laying landscape mulch fabric. “It was our way to tell the White House that the president’s climate legacy, which we

“I looked around, and I didn’t see a statewide organization that was using creativity, that was aggressive online, and wasn’t afraid of throwing a punch to politicians who weren’t being accountable on issues we cared about. So, I thought that’s something that we needed to start.” - Jane Kleeb 144

omaha magazine • july/august 2015

know he cares deeply about, is directly tied to the rejection of the Keystone XL.” Whenever Kleeb talks about Bold Nebraska’s progressive and populist mission for the state, she uses the first-person plural possessive: “our state.” Though not originally from Nebraska, she made it her permanent home in early 2007. She grew up in south Florida. Both parents were staunch Republicans. Her stay-athome mother led Broward County Right to Life. As a child, Kleeb often made posters, sat in the back of community meetings, or simply watched mom lead rallies. That was the beginning of her political awareness. Her father owned several Burger King franchises. The whole family would help during the weekends to slice pickles (they didn’t used to come precut) and other chores. “I thought all families did that,” she says with a laugh. She went to school in northern Florida then headed to Philadelphia and D.C. for the next decade. Despite voting for Bill Clinton and running an AmeriCorps program, she claims to have remained a registered Republican up until taking a job with Young Democrats of America. She became executive director in 2003 and worked with “Rock the Vote.” A chance encounter at the 2005 Democratic Convention in Phoenix would eventually tie her fate to Nebraska. That’s where she met Scott. The handsome Yale graduate, a bull-riding grandson of a Western Nebraska rancher, was considering a bid for the state’s third congressional district. “I thought he couldn’t get out of the Republican primary so he ran as a Democrat,” she says with a laugh, recalling her first impression of the man who would become her husband. Her admitted “very stereotypical view of Nebraska” changed after she became involved with Scott’s campaign. Her life changed when she first visited the Sandhills. “I had this really fundamental shift when I came to visit Scott on the ranch,” she says. “Just talking with young and old ranchers, they have this beautiful view of family and the land—they know every blade of grass on their property, and they know the weather cycles, and they can name every cow that’s on their property.” She fell in love with the aspiring politician and his state. Four months after the campaign ended in narrow defeat, they married in March 2007. Her immersion in Nebraska politics was just beginning.

The newlywed Kleeb took a political correspondent job with MTV during the 2008 presidential election. She also helped run her husband’s 2008 Senate campaign, which ended in a general election loss to Mike Johanns. Then, after Obama took the White House, the Service Employees International Union sponsored “Change that Works” to petition support for health care reform; Kleeb was named the organization’s Nebraska director. She mobilized community support across small towns and cities. She aggressively lobbied then-Senator Ben Nelson, and she found success. Nelson would eventually provide a crucial swing vote for Obamacare in exchange for the notorious “Cornhusker Kickback.” “I knew (Change that Works) would end as soon as the bill got passed in Congress,” she says. “I looked around, and I didn’t see a statewide organization that was using creativity, that was aggressive online, and wasn’t afraid of throwing a punch to politicians who weren’t being accountable on issues we cared about. So, I thought that’s something that we needed to start.” The concept for Bold Nebraska was born. She met with Omaha philanthropist Dick Holland, a powerful contributor to progressive Democratic causes and candidates. Kleeb pitched her idea. Inspired, Holland offered start-up funds, and she transitioned from health care reform to her ultimate, bold ambition for Nebraska: “to change the political landscape of our state.” But she still had no idea her life was about to plunge into a pipeline-induced rabbit hole. “About three months after we started, I got a phone call about the pipeline. It was from a friend who works at an environmental group, and he said, ‘Have you heard about this? It’s going to cut across the Sandhills,’” Kleeb says of her first introduction to the Keystone XL. “I’d never worked on an environmental issue. I didn’t know anything about eminent domain or what the tar sands were. But I was intrigued because it was going to cross the Sandhills—and it still will—and that’s where my husband’s family all homesteaded, where I fell in love with Nebraska. So I was like, okay, I’ll go to the meeting.” She traveled to York for a State Department meeting in May 2010. She listened to Nebraska farmers and ranchers voice concerns about threats to livestock, crops, and water supplies. She saw a clear   > continued on page 146


continued from page 144 <  example of “right and wrong,” and Bold Nebraska found its first big cause. Pipeline advocates have alleged that Keystone XL opposition is linked to backing from Omaha’s Warren Buffet and Berkshire Hathaway. Some believe that oil transport by rail rather than pipeline would benefit Berkshire-owned BNSF Railway. Bold’s early key donor—Dick Holland—is a major Berkshire shareholder and made a fortune investing in Warren Buffet. But Kleeb says the critique is misleading; Buffet has expressed support for the Keystone XL. “That’s a conspiracy theory,” she says. “I wish I had Warren Buffet money. I’ve asked. Life is not that filled with conspiracy. But the conspiracy theory about the FBI secretly taping us, that turned out to be true [and was reported by The Guardian and The New York Times].” The FBI and TransCanada had been advising law enforcement how anti-terrorism laws and tactics could be used against pipeline activists. After completing her latest crop art project, Kleeb filed a Freedom of Information Act request to find out what the FBI has on file for her. Weighing the danger of rail versus pipeline, both are risky. “But they are different risks,” she says. “There are more accidents on rail, but they spill less oil. Pipelines have fewer accidents each year, but when they spill, they spill more oil into the ground and water. So it’s not either/or for me. Both need to be made safer.” As Kleeb’s pipeline fight drags on, Omaha continues to play an important staging ground. The locally headquartered Domina Law Group is representing landowners and Bold Nebraska. In January, the Nebraska Supreme Court ruled that the proposed Keystone XL route could remain in place; however, attorneys with Domina are ready to file lawsuits contesting TransCanada’s eminent domain. Final say on the permit must be determined at the federal level. At the time of publication, the State Department’s analysis of the pipeline remained underway, and Kleeb anticipated that President Obama would reject the pipeline permit. “We think that we will prevail. Because it’s a very clear constitutional question,” she says. Several Omaha musicians were featured on a Stopping the Pipeline Rocks album recorded last spring in a solar barn on the Keystone XL route. Over the summer, Kleeb and Bold Nebraska’s team organized a solidarity event at the Bob Kerrey 146

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Pedestrian Bridge as climate marchers passed into Iowa on their walk from California to Washington D.C. During the fall election season, Kleeb and the Cowboy Indian Alliance canvased Omaha neighborhoods door-to-door on horseback. They pushed hard to prevent reelection of Republican Congressman Lee Terry, a vocal advocate of the Keystone XL. His replacement, Democrat Brad Ashford, is, much to Kleeb’s dismay, also a pipeline proponent of the Keystone XL. “Brad Ashford says he is concerned about climate change. But you can’t be concerned about climate change and then want to expand the tar sands, which is one of the dirtiest forms of oil,” she says. Keystone XL has fractured political alliances along fascinating lines. While labor unions and corporate interests generally endorse the pipeline, many libertarians oppose it on the grounds of government taking private land while environmentalists oppose it for ecological reasons. “It is definitely an unlikely alliance,” Kleeb says, noting that some of Bold’s regular donors are conservative Republicans. National polls by CBS News, the Pew Research Center, USA Today and the Princeton Survey Research Associates International found that between 56 and 60 percent of the American public supported the Keystone XL. Kleeb says that Bold Nebraska’s polls for Omaha specifically have found support/opposition split closer to 50-50. In spite of her affiliation with the Democratic Party, Kleeb would like to see Bold Nebraska straddle bipartisan politics. Growing numbers of registered independent Nebraskan voters gives her hope. “My mom and dad raised me as a Republican,” says Kleeb. “That’s why when I see the majority of Republicans in our state, including Omaha, it never deters me that someone in our state with populist and progressive ideas cannot get elected.” During the course of the one-hour interview with Omaha Magazine, Kleeb never once checks the time. She has been speaking confidently and eloquently about her life, her politics, and the Keystone XL until minutes before the start of “Politics and Pints” and the launching of “In the Neb.” The interview concludes, and Kleeb has to leave. She heads to her minivan. She picks up another pile of signs and flyers. She walks down to the Farnam House Brewing Company.

The bar is packed. Petitions, surveys, and tickets for complimentary beers float freely. Kleeb stands amid the chattering crowd and calls for attention. Silence. Her stage presence exudes the same sense of friendly, genuine sincerity that she has practiced as a pundit on Fox News and in one-on-one conversations across Nebraska. Kleeb introduces the current status of the pipeline. Other speakers from labor unions and environmental groups take the floor: opposing the Trans Pacific Partnership, lamenting out-of-state fracking waste disposal proposals in western Nebraska, introducing Bold Nebraska’s “In the Neb.” project. Enthusiastic clapping follows each call for change. Especially boisterous applause comes from 64-year-old Deirdre Evans of the Joslyn Castle neighborhood. A regular at Bold Nebraska events, Evans even went to Washington D.C. in 2011 to be arrested for the first time while protesting the Keystone XL outside the White House. “Jane is my hero,” says Evans after the speakers conclude. As Kleeb chats with glowing admirers, her ascendance in regional progressive politics becomes apparent. But her compatibility with the general electorate has yet to be tested. In 2010, she was elected as a school board member in Hastings on a platform of healthy lunches, “which prompted the GOP in Nebraska to run robocalls telling voters I wanted to make their kids vegetarians,” she says, noting that she loved serving on the school board. An important question remains. What are Kleeb’s future political ambitions? Does she see herself elected someday to represent Nebraskan constituents in the state or national capitol? She responded to the followup question by e-mail without delay: “If I run for office, it will be focused on a platform of ending eminent domain for private gain and working towards energy projects that protect our land and water. I still also deeply care and worry about the lack of residential treatment facilities in our state for eating disorders and other mental illnesses that need that type of care for folks to recover. “So, yes, I am considering running. When, where, and for what office—that I am not sure about. Right now, I keep listening to folks to see where we can make the most impact to keep showing the rest of the country what Nebraskans are made of—grit, creativity, and the resolve to get things done.”  OMAG

July/August 2015


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traveling the highway of memories


volume 3 • issue 3


HE LEGENDARY SHOOT-EM-UP WESTERN writer Louis L’Amour believed “No memory is ever alone; it’s at the end of a trail of memories, a dozen trails that each have their own associations.” Memory is a recurring theme in this issue of 60PLUS. Memories of travel. Memories of adventure. Memories of love. And of love lost. Even editor David Williams explores the mysteries of memory in closing this issue with The Grandpa Chronicles. We hope the recollections found on the pages that follow give you pause to reflect on your own experiences, your own memories. At our age, after all, we have so many more (as L’Amour would put it) “trails” to travel. May we suggest that you read this issue outdoors in the waning light of a summer’s day as you bask in the serene stillness of a beautiful sunset? What better trailhead could there be for launching a journey down memory lane? Until next issue!


Gwen Lemke Contributing Editor, 60PLUS In Omaha

FEATURE Susan Bray World Traveler, Historic Preserver............. S4

FINANCES Discovering How to Apply for V.A. Benefits........S8

HISTORY Ghost Host—The Squirrel Cage Jail................S10

COVER FEATURE Pickleball More Fun Than Drinking a Barrel of Vinegar..................................S14

HEALTH Skin Cancer Continues to Rise.........................S18

FACES Retirement on the Road...................................S20

THE GRANDPA CHRONICLES Lord Acton Said it Best....................................S22

july/august 2015 | 60PLUS


60PLUS FEATURE by mandy mowers | photography by bill sitzmann


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july/august 2015 | omahamagazine.com

july/august 2015 | 60PLUS 




USAN BRAY HAS NEVER been one to shy away from attention. She built her life around standing out. As a blonde, long-haired “hippie chick” in the 1970s, Bray stood out in some Asian and Middle-Eastern countries that had never welcomed a white woman traveling solo. Her adventures started after she left Nebraska and moved to Honolulu to live with her brother after college. A few years later, Bray married a physicist. They eventually relocated to Guam—“the hottest place on God’s green earth,” according to Bray. And she would know. The travel bug bit hard soon after the couple divorced. She’s visited more than 50 countries in her 70 years of life. Most of her 50 countries came in a span of five years during three different trips. She saw the cage in Titian where she believes Amelia Earhart was held captive by the Japanese until her death. She was goosed by a camel in Afghanistan. And she was horned in the rear by a water buffalo in Nepal. Bray most recalls the kindness of the people in Nepal. It’s her favorite country. While there, she rented a motorcycle and headed toward Mount Everest—at least, until it broke down. She says, “It wasn’t a Harley, I’ll tell you.” But even out in the remote rice paddies, she quickly found help. She went to Agra to see the Taj Mahal. It is the second most beautiful work of architecture she’s ever seen. The most stunning edifice Bray saw was the Golden Pagoda in Burma (now Myanmar). “It was like eight to 10 stories high, and it had a spiral staircase like the Guggenheim.” In an excited whisper, she then adds, “It was all plated gold. Just startling when you see it.” Traveling cost a lot. She came home to her mother in Omaha in 1976 with about 45 cents to her name. Thankfully, pay phones only cost a dime at the time. Subconsciously, Bray may have been studying art and architecture all over the world because she knew that’s where her heart was. Her passion led her to city planning in Omaha, which evolved into historic preservation. Soon she grew restless and weary of Midwestern winters. Bray bought a house in Hawaii and lived there until her mother

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became ill. To be closer to her, she moved to La Jolla, Calif. Quickly getting involved in historic preservation once again, “I ended up being in charge of the restoration of downtown San Diego,” Bray says. “I did an area called the Gaslamp Quarter. It was all old buildings I did…96 of them.” In her living room is a newspaper clipping from the San Diego Tribune, the headline of which reads, “Gunslinger of the Gaslamp: Susan Bray is the guardian of downtown’s historical integrity—like her or not.” She looks at the photo in the clipping and says, “The guys working on this building gave me a pink construction hat. So cute.” Reflecting on Gaslamp, Bray says, “That’s my biggest contribution. I changed the footprint of a city. And that’s forever.” Bray thinks a lot about legacies because she’s been diagnosed with a rare degenerative brain disease similar to Lou Gehrig’s called Orthostatic Hypotension. It’s terminal. This news came after she already survived lymphoma and breast cancer. Her doctor in California recommended that she live near her burial site. So, six years

july/august 2015 | omahamagazine.com

ago, she threw all her photos, a small red chair, and a blue stool in her car to come back to Omaha. Although she always appreciated the sense of community here, she felt sad to find so many of her good friends had already passed away or moved. She’s grateful for the new friends she has made and some friends from Westide High School she’s reconnected with. Bray does not know the meaning of the term stranger. “I dialed the wrong number the other night in San Diego, and I ended up talking to a 79-year-old woman for an hour,” she says. Even sales calls get a taste of her gusto. “My daily joy is making people laugh,” she says. “I think that’s why God put me on this earth.” So even though Bray has to “fill a bathtub to feel at home” so far from the ocean, she’s made a home again in Omaha. Inside her apartment, Bray’s parakeet, Big Boy, sings in the background. Combine that with the vintage blond art deco floors—“I would only ever live in a historic property”—it could almost be a tropical getaway.

60PLUS feature

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The Road Home

Prescription Drug Abuse Among Teens


Mayor Jean Stothert Leading in a Man’s World Jim Flowers

Weathers the Storm Omaha’s

Best Doctors® Omaha’s 2013


Nebraska’s Premier Wealth Advisors The Making of Nebraska John Jackson

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The Loyal Royal Alex Gordon

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Malorie Maddox Omaha Stories

war & Chuck Hagel battles for a future free of the quagmires of the past.



omamag.com/save july/august 2015 | 60PLUS


60PLUS FINANCE by ryan borchers | photography by bill sitzmann

WADING THROUGH C THE FLOODWATERS discovering how to apply for V.A. benefits

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july/august 2015 | omahamagazine.com

OMMIE SCHABEN’S 82-YEAROLD FATHER, Ed, is a Korean War veteran who served at Virginia Beach. He survived horrors untold, but last year, he almost died after his small intestine ruptured. Commie was determined to have him live at home with her after that, but she says making that happen without some kind of assistance would have been difficult. “I’d be really hurting,” she says. “I’d be skimping and scraping really bad. I probably would have had to put him in a home. I’d rather have him here with me.” So she went to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website to see if she could

obtain any assistance for her dad along the lines of a wheelchair or bathroom handlebars. She sent them her phone number, asking for some guidance. Dave Olney, a local care advocate, got in touch with her. It turned out the V.A. could do a lot more for her and her dad than she realized. “It’s just wonderful,” she says. It may not be the most widely known aid program, but the V.A. offers benefits to former members of the armed forces, and their spouses, to help pay for the cost of care. The veterans’ benefits program helps eligible members pay for care costs like assisted living, treatment after major medical conditions, etc.

Olney often works with clients seeking to obtain veterans benefits and says a veteran and his/her spouse are eligible to receive $25,000 a year for care. A veteran by him or herself may receive a little over $21,000 annually, and the surviving spouse of a veteran may be eligible for over $13,000 annually. Only about 5 percent of eligible veterans are taking advantage of these benefits. “In today’s society, as you grow older, quite often, the more care you need, and some of our elderly people [are in] need of care and protecting their assets,” Olney says. So, why are so few veterans collecting this money? Olney thinks there are two reasons. The first is that not many people know about the benefits. The second is that the process can be complicated. Even though no one can charge for filling out the requisite paperwork, oftentimes that paperwork can be confusing, and incorrectly entered or missing information may lead to the V.A. denying an applicant without an explanation. Olney says one of his recent clients was denied because of a piece of paper missing from the application. “He would’ve quit right then and there, but that’s the way it is when you deal with government. They don’t always give you all the facts.” Allan Jackson, director of the Douglas County Veterans Services, says the V.A. requires certain forms and documents to establish a given veteran’s service time and discharge status. The V.A. also requests verification of income and assets as well as medical information if the requested benefits are for care; however, he says there are limits to what a Veterans Service officer is allowed to ask of someone inquiring about benefits.

“We can’t get into an individual’s history,” he says. “We can’t get into an individual’s income and assets. Confidentiality comes into play.” Even if you fill out all the paperwork, Olney says, how you answer a given question may alter your chances of receiving benefits. For example, the paperwork asks about your assets. What is considered an asset? If you own a given asset, do you own 100 percent of it? (The correct answer is no.) Questions like those aren’t explained in the rules, Olney says, and a care advocate can help applicants determine their finances and incomes, and how care costs affect their incomes. If you tell the V.A. you make a certain amount of money, the V.A. might deny you benefits because your income is too high. Jackson stresses the importance of itemizing the ways in which your income is spent on care. And if you factor in the cost of your care, Olney says, that might help your case. Olney says he’s found the average veteran who successfully applies and submits the paperwork will start receiving benefits within 90 days. And if more eligible members take advantage of the benefits, there might be other advantages as well. Not only would the veterans and their families be better off, but there would be less strain on other federal programs like Medicaid and Social Security. As for Ed, Commie says, the V.A. sends visiting nurses to their home. Her dad is also at the top of the list of eligible candidates to stay at the new V.A. home if it comes to that, and if her mom were still alive, the V.A. would have helped her get into assisted living. “They are entitled to this,” Olney says. “It’s a thing they’ve sacrificed for…it’s something they have truly earned, so why shouldn’t they have this benefit if they’ve truly earned it?” july/august 2015 | 60PLUS


60PLUS HISTORY by judy horan | photography by bill sitzmann


eeriness around every corner (in a place that doesn’t have corners)

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ISITORS FROM OMAHA AND the spirit realm are welcome at the Squirrel Cage Jail Museum in Council Bluffs. Carla Borgaila says she has met several of the resident ghosts. She remembers her hat being pulled from her head as she frantically tried to hold it on. “I could feel the fingers on my head,” she remembers. “But no one was there.” Another time, “a guy came into my office and just stood there.” Despite her personal experiences with ghosts, Borgaila is a realist. “Ninety percent is overactive imagination. Nine percent we can’t explain, but it’s not paranormal. But then there’s that one percent.” Although a ghost has not spoken to her, she has heard her name called. But she never feels scared or threatened. “They’re like Casper the Friendly Ghost. There’s no reason to be fearful.” Borgaila, museum coordinator for the Historical Society of Pottawattamie County, is responsible for arranging paranormal, as well as regular, tours of the quirky Squirrel Cage Jail. Built in 1885, the jail on a turntable is now a museum. Adults who want to spend 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. asking questions of alleged ghosts can call for an appointment. But plan ahead. Overnight paranormal investigation groups are already booked two months out. The outing costs a minimum of $175, which covers the first seven people; additional people are $25 each. Youths age 16 and 17 are not allowed without a guardian; only people age 21 and older can schedule an appointment. Some of the people who died in the building may be lingering. “One is an inmate who hung himself. I firmly believe he’s still there. People describe him to a tee.” Several ghostly jailers also hang around. “People see them.” Groups spending the night at the Squirrel Cage Jail sometime pick up electronic voice phenomena. “You don’t hear it then, but it shows up in the background when later listening to the audio recording,’ says Borgaila. Ghost hunting is not the only activity in the historical building. Regular tours are available for individual visitors and groups of 15 or more. Borgaila also has scheduled bridal showers and birthday parties.

Even if ghost-less, the building’s architecture is worth a visit. Originally, prisoners in pie-shaped cells got in and out when a hand crank turned to line the cell up with a single door on each of the three floors. Because the cage rotated and jailers could view all the cells from one place, fewer jailers were needed. The jail was built to be escape-proof, but 60 inmates escaped over the years. Inmates also had to be careful to avoid getting an arm or leg crushed by the rotating jail. The county jail was used from 1885 to 1969. Inmates still reside close by. “I run into them all the time,” she says. “It’s a badge of honor. They’re proud they were in one of the most unique buildings in the United States.” One of three remaining Lazy Susan jails, it is on the National Register of Historic Places. The Council Bluffs jail is the largest of the 18 built.

CHECK IT OUT SQUIRREL CAGE JAIL 226 Pearl St. in Council Bluffs. Open daily 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sundays 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Closed Mondays, major holidays, and the month of January. Tours are available year-round. 712-323-2509.

july/august 2015 | 60PLUS



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Spend your lazy summer days in peaceful Napa Valley, part of California’s wine country region with its incredible weather and unforgettable scenery. Saunter through wineries and take in the beautiful countryside before treating yourself to a souvenir at one of the eclectic shops in the cozy towns that dot the countryside. Just a short drive to the coast, you can also soak in the rolling waves of the Pacific Ocean! Of course, the area also boasts a great variety of dining options, from artisan cafes to Tuscan fare to seafood. Napa Valley is truly a dream for the foodie and wine enthusiast alike!

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60PLUS COVER FEATURE by kara schweiss | photography by bill sitzmann


more fun than drinking a barrel of vinegar

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T’S PLAYED ON A badminton-size court, but with the net lowered to 34 inches at the center. The paddles look like a hybrid of racquetball racquets and table tennis paddles. The rules are somewhat similar to tennis, but the serve is underhand. And the ball looks more like a whiffle ball than a vinegarsoaked cucumber. It’s Pickleball—a sport that is quickly gaining a large following, with the local club, Pickleball Omaha, boasting around 225 members. The game’s origins date back to a 1965 Washington state backyard, and even its

creators can’t quite agree on whether the name came from a family dog or a term associated with rowing. Regardless of this, pickleball has evolved over 50 years from an improvised family pastime to a thriving, widely recognized passion. The statewide organization, Pickleball Nebraska, was founded in 2012, and the sport has been part of Nebraska’s State Games of America (formerly Cornhusker State Games) since 2011. It is even going to be part of the State Games of America’s national competition for the first time this summer when Nebraska serves as host state. >

july/august 2015 | 60PLUS



< Pickleball Nebraska President Bill Holt (pictured on the cover) discovered the sport in 2008 while wintering in Arizona. It was popular with the retirement crowd there, he says, but relatively unknown back home in Nebraska—without an organized following or designated courts. So Holt and his wife, Nancy, created a makeshift playing field on an Omaha tennis court that spring and began introducing friends to the sport. Interest has grown steadily since. “There was no place to play pickleball in Nebraska that I was aware of, and nobody I knew played,” Holt says. “We now have 10 places to play listed (on the USA Pickleball Association website at uspaa.org) and there are actually more than that.” More information on this pastime is available at pickleballnebraska.wordpress.com, and players can now also find local places to participate through the club’s page on Facebook. Like Holt, Camille Culp’s association with pickleball originated in Arizona. Her husband, Wayne, played the game for the first time on a business trip six years ago, introduced Camille, and soon the couple found other enthusiasts in Omaha. Culp was one of the first women to play locally, and she

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says introductory clinics, open play sessions, and a welcoming community have helped the sport grow in the area. Women now make up more than half of Pickleball Nebraska’s membership. “That’s the pickleball thing, always chat up whoever stops by,” says Culp, who now serves as the group’s treasurer. “They can try it right away and see what they think, and of course, in my opinion, 95 percent of them are hooked.” Holt says club members range from 30-something to 82, and most participants play doubles. A high degree of physical conditioning isn’t necessary to start, but the game can be very intense and local players selfclassify as A-level, B-level, or somewhere in between to determine if they should play recreationally or competitively. “Anybody can join. The typical person is 60-65 and has played sports; I’ve always been fairly active in one thing or another,” Holt says. “Anyone can learn to play…it’s great for all ages.” “It’s relatively easy to learn,” Culp agrees. “I only see the sport getting more popular.”

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60PLUS HEALTH by susan meyers

SKIN CANCER CONTINUES TO RISE greatest increases among women and men over 65


ONY LAZZARETTI KEPT AN eye on the mole on his chest for some time. When it started getting bigger, he made an appointment with his doctor to get it checked. A biopsy confirmed that it was melanoma— the deadliest form of skin cancer. Lazzaretti, 70 years old at the time, said he was never a “sun bunny,” but he remembers getting some bad sunburns. Lazzaretti had surgery to remove the mole and several lymph nodes, but a couple of years later, the cancer returned. This time the cancer was too extensive to remove with surgery, says Alissa Marr, M.D., an oncologist at Nebraska Medicine specializing in melanoma and lung cancer. “We started him on a new immunomodulatory drug and he has had no reoccurrence

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since then,” she says. “This is a remarkable story of how advanced treatments have become. Over the past four years, there have been six new drugs introduced for metastatic melanoma that have been very effective in a select group of patients.” The cases of melanoma have steadily increased over the past 30 years, notes Dr. Marr. The greatest increases have been among white women between the ages of 15 and 39 years, and in men over age 65. While the cause for the increase is not known, better identification, use of tanning beds, and having one or more blistering sunburns as a youth appear to boost the risk. Some research shows that people who use tanning beds are 74 percent more likely to get melanoma than those who don’t use them, notes Dr. Marr. “If melanoma is caught at an early stage and treated with proper surgical resection, it is highly curable,” she says. Melanoma typically starts as a mole. See a doctor if you experience any of the ABCDE’s of a mole: asymmetry; border irregularity; color variation; diameter (anything larger than a pencil eraser); and evolution, meaning a mole that is changing, itchy, or bleeds. The highest incidence of this cancer occurs on the back of the legs in women, and on the trunk and back for men. However, it can occur on any area of the body, even those that have not been exposed to the sun, says Marr. If you get a suspicious mole removed, it needs to be an excision or punch biopsy by a qualified physician in order to get an accurate evaluation. Basal and squamous cell skin cancers, the most common forms of skin cancer, typically occur on chronically sun-exposed areas such as the head, neck, ears, and arms, and are directly related to amount of sun exposure. Suspicious symptoms include: a shiny, waxy, scar-like spot that may be yellow or white with irregular borders; a smooth bump that is indented in the middle; a reddish patch that won’t go away and may be painful or itchy; or a sore that takes more than three weeks to heal. “Everyone should have a full body skin exam every year by their doctor to check for skin cancer,” says Dr. Marr. “The goal is to find it before it progresses and when it is still very treatable.” Now Lazzaretti tells his kids every chance he gets: stay out of the sun, stay away from tanning beds, and wear sunscreen.

Nebraska Low Vision wishes Mike Riley and the Nebraska Cornhuskers Football Team much success in 2015.

www.NebraskaLowVision.com · 402-905-2794 july/august 2015 | 60PLUS


60PLUS FACES by anna hensel | photography by bill sitzmann

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RETIREMENT on the road


RITZ SAMPSON SAYS HE likes to travel slowly, but the words “travel” and “slowly” can conjure up thoughts of lounging over three hour-long dinners in Italy, or spending an entire afternoon wandering through a village in France. For 65-year-old Fritz, “traveling slowly” means moving about 200 miles a day across Europe and Asia by motorcycle. Last March, Fritz undertook a 115day motorcycle journey through southern Europe, the former Soviet bloc, and Mongolia; but his plans were cut short by more than three weeks after an accident in Mongolia. It’s an itinerary that sounds crazy, but, when explained calmly by Fritz, seems perfectly reasonable. “Whether it’s breaking a shoulder, or getting stopped by police, or running out of food, things are going to happen,” Fritz says. “And that’s why you take the trip, because it’s an adventure.” According to Sampson and his wife of 40 years, Mary, he always had a daring spirit. “That’s what I loved him for, was his sense of adventure,” Mary says. “No one is comparable to Fritz—he’s all out for the experience. The couple met on the Model United Nations Team at Creighton University and married in 1975, right out of college. They, and their two children, moved to Germany in 1998 while Fritz pursued a degree in international tax law. His career took him everywhere from China to Belize; but he still craved different ways to see the world. A long-distance cyclist, he rode for years all over the United States. But as he aged, he turned to a new mode of transportation: motorcycling. He bought a new Harley Davidson in 2007, and in 2008 rode with his son, Marty, from Omaha to Tierra del Fuego, an island chain

off the southernmost point of South America. “One of the reasons I do this—I like meeting people on the road,” Fritz says. After his South American excursion, Fritz was itching to do a similar trip elsewhere. He read about two motorcycle adventures on travel blogs that looked really interesting— one to the Russian far east, another in outer Mongolia—and decided to combine the two by retiring and traveling to 17 countries. He planned to begin in Ireland, meet Mary in Turkey, and eventually end up in Mongolia and Russia, but had no other itinerary. That meant he spent a week in Bulgaria because he felt like it. He chose to go to Kazakhstan instead of Turkmenistan because he met a fellow motorcyclist who was headed

there. And when he told local policemen in Turkey the name of the hostel where he was staying, they told him he shouldn’t sleep there and took him to a friend’s house, where they hosted a barbecue for him. He also had a run-in with corrupt police in Azerbaijan, lost 22 pounds, and experienced that fateful fall in Mongolia that cut his trip short and left him with a broken shoulder. There’s only one thing he’s cutting out of his routine: off-roading on his motorcycle, which led to his accident. But he still wants to ride on motorcycle trips across the continental United States, Alaska, and Mexico. After all, he says, those are “easy” rides.

july/august 2015 | 60PLUS  S21



life through a viewfinder


’VE NEVER OWNED A video camera of any kind. Okay, so I’ve just been reminded that my cell phone gizmo has such a device, but having never used it I still qualify as a video virgin. Sony introduced the first consumer camcorder in 1983, the year my youngest child was born. This made our family a prime target for being an early adapter in what became something of a video mania. Almost overnight a populist paparazzi were born where every dad (Why was it always the dads?) at every kindergarten holiday program was armed with a cinder-block-sized camera that instantly made him some kind of Fellini wanna-be. I refused to join the Betamax Age because my makeup is one where I want to remember things the way I want to remember things— not necessarily how they actually happened. Ample video of my kids’ childhood years exists from the cameras of extended family members, and a couple of clan get-togethers have been marred when some idiot got the

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bright idea that we should all watch old videos together. I’m sure any good shrink would have a field day getting inside my head, but the experience of viewing those picnics and parties and plays unfold on screen was…well, “disturbing” is not at all too powerful a word. It’s not that I am a dispassionate stoic. For whatever weird reason, being confronted with a filmed retelling of events rearranges my mental furniture in an unsettling, almost visceral way. That tyranny of memory has only grown over the years, and we’ve all witnessed the rise of the camera-obsessed malady I’ll call the Fear of Missing Out Syndrome. In a sickness typified by living vicariously through a viewfinder, it’s as if film, and only film, is capable of proving, even to ourselves, the existential reality of a person, place, or thing. “I saw Pope Francis!” “I saw President Obama!” “I saw Garth Brooks!” people exclaim. No, you didn’t. You saw only mere pixels while struggling to center a celebrity’s image

july/august 2015 | omahamagazine.com

on your camera. You had exactly the same experience I had when I saw almost identical footage on CNN or the local news, except that my experience was better in that it was rendered by seasoned videographers on professional equipment. You were there, but you weren’t there. Just check out the June 15 Sports Illustrated cover online. Get my point? Our society has become one of dim imaginations reflected in the even dimmer glows of electronic gadgets. As some dude named Lord Acton once claimed, “History is not a burden on the memory, but an illumination of the soul.” I kinda dig that Lord Acton guy, even if his name sounds like a super-classy moniker for a faux-British-bad-guy rassler on WWE. At least according to his lordship, I don’t have an almost pathological relationship with memory. I have an illuminated soul.


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compiled by omaha magazine staff

Obviously Omaha



1. On Aug. 1, Slide the City will transform


1,000 feet of 84th Street in Papillion into a three-lane slalom. Tag your water-logged images on Instagram with #omamag and we’ll share our faves.


2. The nearby Blackstone Hotel lays claim

to the creation of the Rueben sandwich, but all kinds of yummy food has followed in the eponymously named neighborhood that is trending as one of the city’s newest hotspots. Our most recent fave is Noli’s Pizzeria and its straight-outa-Brooklyn tastes and vibe.


3. Omaha Magazine contributor Lindsey

Anne Baker, also a gifted poet, recently received a Distinguished Artist Award from the Nebraska Arts Council. The organization’s Individual Artist Fellowships program recognizes exemplary career achievements by Nebraska artists and supports work in their respective fields by providing public recognition and monetary awards for visual arts, literature, filmmaking, and performing arts.


4. Lists, lists, and more lists. Don’t you

just love ‘em? The Food Network has posted to its website “A Newcomer’s Eating Tour of Omaha” featuring nine must-nosh places: Block 16, Dario’s Brasserie, España, Kitchen Table, M’s Pub, Modern Love, Pitch Pizzeria, The Grey Plume, and Twisted Cork Bistro. Do you agree with their list? Let the flame wars begin…



5. Summer is the perfect season to

pack up the kids and take them on a tour of the city’s many amazing pieces of public art. But where to begin? Got ya covered. Just visit PublicArtOmaha.org for a robust slate of works in a wide array of genres scattered from the river to the far reaches of the metro. Pictured on this page is Matt Lowe’s “Learning to Fly” (photo by Larry Ferguson) on the grounds of the CenturyLink Center.




6. Pushcart Prize-winning author

Marilyn Coffey, featured in the May/ June issue of our sister publication, Encounter, has released her newest book, Thieves, Rascals & Sore Losers: The Unsettling History of the Dirty Deals that Helped Settle Nebraska.



7. Julie Reilly has been named executive

director of Omaha By Design, the urban design and environmental nonprofit dedicated to improving the way Omaha functions, looks, and feels. She formerly served in the same role with the Joslyn Castle Trust after working as development director at KANEKO and leading the Gerald R. Ford Conservation Center.


omaha magazine • july/august 2015



“We feed off each other and we respect one another,” Jocelyn says. “We’ve always had each other. We have this bond. He's always pushed me. He's very real, very blunt. He'll tell you what's up.” - Jocelyn Muhammad 172

omaha magazine • july/august 2015

by leo adam biga  •  photography by bill sitzmann

Creative Siblings Move Past Labels to Make Their Marks Jocelyn and Deven Muhammad


ince coming out a few years ago, Jocelyn and Deven Muhammad have been known as "the gay siblings." But as a LGBT Nebraskans profile put it: "That's one of the least interesting things about them." Jocelyn's a promising singer-songwriter with an old-soul spirit. A May graduate of Millard South, where she was named prom princess, she can be found performing her sweet-sad love tunes on Old Market street corners and at open mic nights around town. Her from-the-heart work, some featured in YouTube videos, has attracted the attention of the music industry. She recently sang during open mic sessions at the legendary Whiskey a Go-Go in L.A. and the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville. She plans to return to L.A. this summer. Her goal is to write hit records. She's currently creating songs for what she hopes is her debut album on a major label. Deven has been selected as a touring performing artist with The Young Americans, a nonprofit group founded 50 years ago to promote understanding and goodwill through the arts. The charismatic junior-tobe at Midland University in Fremont recently helped his school's competitive dance team win two national titles with his dynamic hip hop, jazz, and pompom routines. In high school he starred in musical theater before becoming the first male dance team member and being voted Mr. Millard South. At Midland he was crowned Freshman Homecoming Prince. These creatives fiercely support their individual expressions and dimensions. For a long time it was Deven who sang and Jocelyn who danced. As kids they became determined to swap lives.

"What I love about us is that I know she's the singer of the family and she knows I'm the dancer…and we kind of leave it as is," Deven says. ”We do our own thing, we have our own thing, so we don't get jealous of each other. But we also love to share what we're doing." The siblings not only identify as gay, but also Caucasian, African-American, and Chinese. They have encountered racism, both subtle and overt. Through everything, including a childhood when their father wasn't around much and they made do with less than their friends, these two have been simpatico. Of course, the siblings also sometimes stole each other's clothes. "We feed off each other and we respect one another,” Jocelyn says. “We’ve always had each other. We have this bond. He's always pushed me. He's very real, very blunt. He'll tell you what's up." Though brutally honest about her first vocalizing attempts, he worked with her. Most of all, he reminded her they come from a loving family that supports whatever interest any member follows. "He showed me there's no such thing as trying,” she continues. “You do it or you don't do it. That's what he's done with his dancing. He's very inspiring. I look up to him a lot." Tough love is necessary if you expect to get better, Deven says. "That's why I'm hard on her on some things and that's why people are hard on me. I love being pushed, I love reaching for a new goal." Though not surprised by Jocelyn's success, he's impressed by how far his little sister has come since picking up the guitar less than three years ago. "She's growing up really fast. She holds herself very well. She’s different every time I listen to her. It's literally a whole new voice.

Jocelyn is making strides like it's nobody's business. She's doing what she feels she needs to do to succeed." Jocelyn has surrounded herself with veteran musicians who've taught her stagecraft and the business side of music. She considers the defunct Side Door Lounge, where she played extensively, "the best schooling I've ever had in my life," adding, "Just being there experiencing everything, meeting musicians, having jam sessions—that one venue changed the rest of my life." Deven's refined his own craft through dance camps and workshops. "I know if I want something in life I have to work for it," he says. "I love that the things I have are because I worked my ass off for it. I'm very appreciative of what I have. That's really shaped who I am." As life's grown more hectic between rehearsals, school, and work, the release that comes in dance, he says, is more precious than ever. "It kind of makes me forget about everything going on in life," he says. "It's the one thing I love to do." When the vibe's just right during a set, Jocelyn gets lost in the music, deep inside herself, connecting with the audience. "It just makes you feel your highest self," she says. Jocelyn feels the chances coming her way are, "happening for a reason. You create your own destiny and your own luck."  OMAG

omaha magazine • july/august 2015




he chaotic scene in Benghazi,

Libya, the night of Sept. 11, 2012, looked like something out of a Michael Bay movie. Just after 9 p.m., more than 100 Islamic militants flooded the U.S. embassy compound there, forcing a small group of American diplomats and security personnel into a frantic retreat to a safe room hidden within the compound. One mile away, Omahan Kris Paronto, a former Army Ranger, sat watching a movie with fellow members of the secretive CIA security force known as the Global Response Staff. Then came the distress call from the compound: An urgent cry to “Get in here— NOW!” amid explosions and Jihadist cries of “Allahu Akbar.” The ensuing rolling battle placed Paronto not only in the crosshairs of Libyan extremists, but, back in the United States, in the crosshairs of one of the most politicized events of the 21st Century. Benghazi. Benghazi. The death of two American diplomats, including American ambassador

ordeal died down, but what trickled out to the public was, in Paronto’s mind, grossly twisted into a political nightmare. The surviving members of the team met in Langley, Virginia, that May to honor their fallen comrades. Following the formal service, they gathered at a bar, where they toasted the deceased. As the nearly unavoidable subject of politics arose, Paronto discovered he was not the only team member disgusted with the media’s portrayal of Benghazi. “What the hell?” Paronto says, shaking his head. The only way to tell the correct story would be to tell it themselves. It was then they determined they needed to write the story—as a team effort. They had to stick together, as they were not supposed to mention the attack to anyone, let alone write a book. “We kept getting treated badly by the CIA,” Paronto said. “We had to sign a bunch of non-disclosure agreements.” But Paronto maintains this is the truth, and he tired of biting his tongue and clench-

13 Hours in Benghazi J. Christopher Stevens, who died of smoke inhalation in that safe room. The fact that Paronto and his team—two of whom died in the skirmishes that followed—were told to stand down by the region’s CIA chief (orders that Paronto and his team soon disobeyed). How could this all happen? Who was responsible for the intelligence and security lapses? Liberal conspiracy, or conspiracy theory of conservatives? Politicos in the 24-hour news cycle droned overtime. This firestorm in which Kris Paronto found himself not only looked like something out of a Michael Bay movie, it will actually be a Michael Bay movie. And in that movie, and the book that inspired that movie, will be a character named Kris Paronto. Paronto is now back in Omaha living what may be called a normal life with his wife, a son he calls “Bubba,” and a daughter he calls “Princess.” He takes long runs and rides his bike to clear his mind of the ghosts that haunt him. He resumed his insuranceadjusting business. In the months following September 2012, the hourly barrage of news about this horrific 174

omaha magazine • july/august 2015

Communication professor could write the story well. “This was the first book that came to me quite this way,” Zuckhoff says. “Normally I got out and found an idea and wrote a book. I felt honored that Kris and the guys went out and found me.” “Like a lot of Americans, I thought I knew a decent amount,” Zuckhoff says. “The incident happened about nine or 10 months earlier, and I kept on top of it… Once I started talking to the guys, I realized I, like most Americans, had no idea what happened over there.” One part Zuckhoff had no idea about was the lack of involvement from a film titled Innocence of Muslims, which both conservatives and liberals blamed as being part of the reason for the attack. “What? I got up the next day and saw something about a video,” Paronto says. “Gosh, I don’t know where they got that video thing. It hadn’t filtered to Benghazi yet.” As Zuckhoff discovered the story being told in the mainstream media differed vastly


ing his fists when he heard inaccuracies on the news. “It really bothers me when whatever side you’re on goes too far to further their cause,” Paronto says. “Battles aren’t political. You’re trying to live and they’re trying to live. We did not speculate what was going on in the head shed.” Paronto is political in his own right. He’s a conservative-minded patriot with several tattoos, including one that looks as though his skin is being ripped open to reveal an American flag in his core. He considers himself a warrior not just for the U.S., but for God, though personally, he’s more of a C&E’r, as in Christmas and Easter churchgoer. He sometimes attends Gethsemane Lutheran Church outside of the holidays and is a member of Fellowship of Christian Athletes. A plan of counter-political attack made, Paronto contacted his friend Richard Abate, literary agent for author Mitchell Zuckhoff. Paronto previously read Zuckhoff’s book Lost in Shangri-La, and knew that the seasoned journalist and Boston University College of

from the story the guys told him, he unraveled the story like a cat tearing into a knot of yarn. “We got it done in about three months,” Paronto said. “We did three different revisions to make it apolitical. Even though we knew it would eventually become political, we wanted it to be nonpartisan.” Also helping to keep the story apolitical were the GRS operators’ unassuming demeanors. “These are extraordinary guys, and what I loved about working with them was they got it,” Zuckhoff says. “They didn’t focus on ‘does this make me look good?’ They didn’t ask ‘does this make me look bad because I was joking around in a serious moment.’” One member of the unit that Paronto had a hard time keeping apolitical about was the chief, known as Bob. Bob wasn’t Paronto’s favorite person. He was a veteran of what Paronto calls the “Alphabet Soup Company,” since he oversees so many things without really being a part of any of them. “You can be in a combat zone and not be in combat,” Paronto said. “But that’s Bob.” He sets his jaw more squarely and straightens his back when talking about the large

by  •  photography by bill sitzmann

by daisy hutzell-rodman  •  photography by bill sitzmann

Libyan militia unit known as the “17 February Martyrs Brigade.” Bob told the team one reason his team did not respond quickly was that they were waiting for help from the militia’s fighters. Paronto, specifically, did not trust that militia, which was formed during the revolution that toppled dictator Muammar Gaddafi. Paronto’s instincts were proved correct when the only members of the militia in the area were a group of boys who turned back following the sight of actual combat. “Failure to prep the 17 February unit.” “The GRS operated as mercenaries.” Accusations flew in all directions. Zuckoff had myriad divergent narratives to rectify. “There were so many political interests around, but once I started talking to Kris, I discovered it was really straightforward,” Zuckoff says. “These are truly honorable, decent men who didn’t have any agenda outside of how they lost four brave men, and how they had been left to fend for themselves.” Zuckhoff himself had no problem remaining neutral, although his own political ten-

of the attack.” The tome, bearing a book jacket covered in the yellow and green colors of a fading bruise, came out at the perfect time to engage the media. The first organization to report on the book? Fox News. “People were saying we chose Fox because it is Republican or whatever,” Paronto says. “No, we didn’t choose them for that reason. We chose them because they paid us the most to break it.” Publishing the book means potential civil forfeiture of royalties and movie life rights, along with possible fines of $250,000 and prison. The team has experienced accusations of slander from both the government and the media. But Paronto and his teammates succeeded in telling people their story. Partially boosted by good reviews in the The New York Times and the Washington Post, United States and Canadian bookstores sold 200,000 copies by the end of 2014. Paronto sits back in his chair. “If I was in a military setting, we’d have gotten the medal

dencies sway opposite Paronto’s. The Boston University professor admits that previous to his contact with the GRS team, he was not likely to be friends with military contractors. “My professor friends are more likely to have a glass of wine and call it a night,” Zuckhoff says. “When I go out with these guys, there’s a lot of storytelling. They are funny and profane, and there’s no guile.” For example: Paronto, as serious as he can be, is well-known by his compatriots as an unrepentant prankster. He particularly enjoys heisting the odds-and-ends of friends (such as hats, Xbox games, and magazines), immersing them in containers of water, and then freezing them. “I wanted to show a human side,” Paronto says. “I think the book did a good job of that.” The book, 13 Hours in Benghazi, came out in September 2014—exactly two years after the attack. “This was the fastest I’ve ever written a book,” Zuckoff says. “I literally only took one day off during that entire time. The only real pressure I had was that we wanted the book to come out on the second anniversary

of honor,” he says. “The things those guys did that night…those things that happen in combat, they don’t happen anywhere else.” There is one other place that happens…the big screen. Paronto and the team will be able to watch the horror unfold again through the magic of Hollywood. Chuck Hogan, writer for The Town, starring Ben Affleck, wrote a screenplay based on the book. Shooting for the movie has just begun, with Pablo Schreiber portraying Paronto. No release date has been set, but Paronto has visited the set and describes Schreiber as “outstanding” in the role of, well, him.  OMAG


“Battles aren’t political. You’re trying to live and they’re trying to live.” - KRIS PARONTO omaha magazine • july/august 2015



"I still have the old Thunderbird recipe card he gave me. Going to culinary school was one thing, but you couldn’t learn more than I did working with my father.” - Steve Villamonte 176

omaha magazine • july/august 2015

by sarah wengert  •  photography by bill sitzmann

Thunder-bird’s Eye View Family and Mentoring Make Steve Villamonte’s View From the Top Complete


t’s lunchtime in the Omaha

Press Club’s spectacular Spiro Agnew Oak Room and Steve Villamonte is humbly puzzled as to why anyone wants to interview him. “Christine’s the backbone of the Press Club,” he says of Christine Jones, his wife and OPC planning & event coordinator. “She does all the work. She’s a big part of our success here the past 15 years.” “Well, we’re all important here,” says Jones, with a warm, conspiratorial wink before exiting. She comes up often in conversation with Villamonte, consistently attached to the adjective “beautiful”—just as in the May 2015 OPC newsletter, where he writes that “the best part [of working] at the Press Club is that I get to see my beautiful Christine every day.” Villamonte’s succeeded in seamlessly combining his three chief interests—family, food, and work—through roles including husband, father, coach, mentor, certified executive chef, Omaha Press Club Executive Director, and entrepreneur behind Villamonte’s Cuisine and his trademarked Thunderbird Salad Dressing. But the family-food-work connection is nothing new to Villamonte. At age 53, he’s been in the kitchen 48 years. “One of my first memories was making Thunderbird salads for my dad,” says Villamonte, recollecting his “job” dressing the iconic salad at Omaha’s Happy Hollow Club. He recalls the plastic deli gloves dwarfing his scant 5-year-old hands, the stepstool he stood on, the kitchen’s layout. Villamonte’s father, Peruvian-born chef Luis Villamonte, established the Thunderbird as house salad at various country clubs in which he worked throughout the Midwest. While it still remains as such at many, the famous Thunderbird dressing, which the Villamontes now sell commercially and

retail, truly reaches its peak as served on the DoubleTree’s 22nd floor, with mixed greens, bacon, bleu cheese, shredded mozzarella, chives, tomatoes, and homemade croutons. “I still have the old Thunderbird recipe card he gave me,” says Villamonte. “Going to culinary school was one thing, but you couldn’t learn more than I did working with my father.” Now the teacher his late father was, Villamonte enjoys working with his team, including OPC Executive Chef Barry Brewer, who handles day-to-day kitchen operations while Villamonte continues to steer creative direction, mentor staff, write banquet menus and menu items, and collaborate with clients who’ve commissioned his expertise in achieving the right note for special dinners and events. Villamonte relishes mentoring other chefs, teaching them tricks of the trade, but also to have “a lot of pride and dignity” in their craft. “I realized I can work through other people and get things done with a lot of culinary flair,” he says. Villamonte urges chefs to seek ample education. “It’s one thing to be a good chef, but you must also be a good manager,” he says. “My first manager reminded me [often] that there’s an abundance of skilled chefs, but you also have to be able to work with people. I’ve never forgotten that. So, the more education you get in both business and culinary skills, the better. You also need hard knocks; that’s the best teacher sometimes.” Villamonte says he enjoys being in the kitchen with his culinary crew. “You know, Paul McCartney always stays relevant. Here he is, in his mid-70s, with a number one song. I think that’s amazing. And my business is the same; you have to constantly look at what’s out, what’s new, what

haven’t I tried yet, what do I want to try … ” Villamonte’s keen on exploring the culinary world’s cutting edge. He researches extensively for menus and likes to put an updated spin on classics, teaching his staff to fabricate meat and create grand food arts like chaud froid. “You tweak it so that things still fit to today, to today’s standards, today’s nouveau,” he says. “I want to be classic but current—you know, I want to be like Paul McCartney.” Starting in January 2014 Villamonte faced the “toughest fight I’ve ever had”—a prolonged health scare resulting in an Autoimmune Liver Disease diagnosis, which his doctor believes was caused by statins. By April 2015, the Villamontes were in “celebration mode” with news that the ALD, although incurable, was not progressing. “We’re a really close-knit family,” says Villamonte, who has two grown sons and two kids under 10, about whom he boasts freely. His oldest, “Junior,” is a “very skilled, very talented” third-generation chef. “People person” Joe is a police officer. Nine-year-old Gabe is a master athlete, ambidextrous pitcher, and “the nicest kid ever—he’s Christine all over again.” Six-year-old Justine is “a pistol” who enjoys dance and tee-ball. Both youngsters love school. “That’s my passion: my family,” says Villamonte. A visit to the OPC kitchen reveals a smiling Brewer and his team prepping fruit and other provisions against the backdrop of the club’s famously striking windows on a cloudless May afternoon. It’s an exceptional view, unlike other kitchens. “To me, it’s the best kitchen in town,” says Villamonte.   OMAG

omaha magazine • july/august 2015



Salt 88 not your typical strip mall food

by mystery reviewer  •  photography by bill sitzmann


he local dining scene has

come a long way in the last decade. These days there are so many great restaurants in Omaha it is becoming hard to keep track of them. I remember a time not long ago when I could count the great Omaha restaurants on both hands. Now I have to keep a voluminous list because there are so many. I’m not complaining. This is a good problem.  > continued on page 180 omaha magazine • july/august 2015



continued from page 179 <  One restaurant that has earned a place on that list is Salt | An 88 Restaurant. Salt 88 opened in west Omaha two years ago. It features a unique style of Mediterranean cuisine with some interesting modern American elements. Chef John Horvatinovich has done an incredible job of creating a dining experience that can’t be duplicated anywhere else in Omaha. 180

omaha magazine • july/august 2015

Salt 88 is also a beautifully designed restaurant. It features a contemporary look with high ceilings, lots of pastel hues, great artwork, and elegant tableware. The space has a formal look to it, but it somehow still manages to feel casual. Don’t let the strip mall location fool you. This is one of the more striking dining spots in Omaha. On a recent visit my dining partner and I started off by trying The Other Calamaria

($10). It’s called that because they also offer a Salt and Pepper Calamari, which I have eaten in the past and really enjoyed. This time I let the server talk me into trying its cousin. I was not disappointed. The breaded and fried calamari was cooked to perfection, seasoned nicely with sea salt, black pepper, garlic, green onions, lemon zest, and cilantro. It was served with a tasty Asian-style sauce as well as a red pepper aioli-type sauce. We

also tasted the Goat Cheese Rangoon ($9). These were fried wonton wrappers shaped like little purses filled with a creamy goat cheese mixture and served with a garlic aioli sauce. For dinner I tried the Plank-Fired Scottish Salmon ($29). This signature dish is served on a mesquite wood plank, topped with a tomato basil sauce and served with grilled vegetables. The salmon had a rich, smoky flavor and literally melted in my mouth. My dining partner had Chicken Terra ($16). This was a juicy grilled chicken breast served with wasabi gouda mashed potatoes and seared fresh spinach. The combination made for a memorable dish. For dessert we split the Chocolate Cake ($11). This moist, house-made treat consisted of at least seven layers, all smothered in a hot chocolate sauce. It was the best chocolate cake I have eaten in ages. I was extremely impressed with my meal, and equally impressed with the assistance I received from our friendly, knowledgeable server. She was responsible for recommending all the incredible food I tried, and she brought it out with impeccable timing. The bar at Salt 88 has a great list of craft beers and cocktails as well as a carefully thought-out wine list that features some of my personal favorites. The server made a great recommendation for a craft beer I had not yet tried and was well versed on the wine list. They also have a robust happy hour every day. It’s not surprising that Salt 88 has earned a prominent position on my list of favorite Omaha restaurants. I am confident once you give it a try it will also be on yours. The check was accompanied by housemade cotton candy, a sweet touch capping an even sweeter evening of indulgences. Cheers!  OMAG

Salt 88 3623 N. 129th St. 402-991-908 Salt88.com Food & Beverage Service Ambiance Price $$ Overall 5 Stars Possible

omaha magazine • july/august 2015


DininG Guide

dining guide

AMERICAN Addy's Sports Bar & Grill - $ 402-991-2663 14110 “S” Street At Addy’s we always put in the extra effort to provide the best experience in town. Mouth watering food, friendly staff and large drink selection makes us the perfect place to enjoy all the games. Come see why everybody is talking about Addy’s. Open daily from 11 a.m.-2 a.m. addysbar.com Catfish Lake - $ 1006 Cunnigham Rd, Bellevue 402-292-9963 Catfish Lake is locally owned and has been in business since 1986. Our famous house-cut steaks are aged to perfection and our housemade food and desserts are modestly priced, making for a very pleasurable dining experience. DJ’s Dugout - $ 636 N 114th St. (402-498-8855) 1003 Capitol Ave. (402-763-9974) 10308 S 23rd St. (402-292-9096) 2102 S 67th St. (402-933-3533) 180th & Q St. (402-292-9096) Catch all of the action at four Omaha locations. Featuring burgers, sandwiches, wraps, salads, appetizers, and an impressive drink menu along with HD TVs and projectors. Home to Blazin’ Pianos, Omaha’s only dueling piano concept. djsdugout.com Duggers Cafe 4950 Dodge St. 402-502-9156 A long time Omaha favorite since 1965 is back! Serving scrumptious breakfasts and lunches. Some culinary delights are their lemon pancakes with fresh raspberry syrup, tasty soups, salads and the long time favorite French Dip sandwich. They also offer catering, pastries, take-out and delivery, and evening parties. 6 a.m.-3 p.m. Mon-Fri, 6:30 a.m.- 3 p.m. Sat & Sun

Get a Little Saucy.

Jimmy's Egg - $ Various Locations For over 30 years, Jimmy's Egg has served up full cups of coffee, fresh-baked breads and fresh cracked to order™ 3 egg omelets by a friendly and attentive staff. Breakfast and lunch is served every day 6a.m.-2p.m. Farnam House Brewing Company - $ 402-401-6086 3558 Farnam St. Located in the revitalized Blackstone district of Midtown Omaha, the diverse beer menu is highlighted by German-style lagers, farmhouse ales, and Old World-style beers. Gastro-centric food offerings feature locally-sourced ingredients and beer-infused creations with European roots. A perfect spot to enjoy a farm-to-table food and craft beer experience. Mon.-Thur. 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Fri.-Sat. 11 a.m.-Midnight, Sun. Noon-8 p.m. farnamhousebrewing.com









omaha magazine • july/august 2015

Le Peep® - $ 177th & Center St. (402-934-9914) 156th & W. Dodge Rd. (402-408-1728) 120th & Blondo St. (402-991-8222) Le Peep® puts a wholesome perspective on your favorite neighborhood Breakfast & Lunch spot. Fresh. Simple. Elegant. Inviting. We put the emphasis on people, both patrons and staff. We focus on providing each of our guests the fresh food and friendly service that they have come to expect. Open daily 6:30 a.m.- 2:00 p.m. Millard Roadhouse - $ MC, V 13325 Millard Ave. 402-891-9292 The all American neighborhood grill Millard Roadhouse is perfect for the whole family, with hugh portions, great service and even better food. From broasted chicken to fried green tomatoes, theres something for every taste, and trust us your not going to leave hungry. Also serving Sunday Brunch and the Best Happy Hour in the area. Mon.-Wed. 11:00-9:00pm, Thur.-Sat. 11:00am-10:00pm, Sun. 10:00am-9:00pm.




3:51 PM

dining guide

Old Mattress Factory - $$ 402-346-9116 501 N. 13th St Within walking distance of Omaha's major entertainment facilities, including TD Ameritrade Park and CenturyLink Center Omaha, this historic building remodeled in 2007 boasts great dining and three private dining rooms for your own events. Stop in before or after any Downtown Omaha event. Open daily at 11:00 a.m. themattomaha.com Phoenix Food & Spirits - $ 402-493-7607 12015 Blondo St. Come experience the Best Burgers on Blondo. Also featuring one of Omaha's best happy hours and reverse happy hour. The Phoenix offers friendly service, a heated patio and numerous televisions so you won't miss a minute of the action. This is the place where Omaha goes for Fun, Food & Spirits. Railcar Modern American Kitchen - $$ 402-493-4743 1814 N. 144th St. Prime rib dinner Fri. and Sat. nights. Happy hour 3:30-6:30 p.m. every day. Reverse happy hour 9 p.m.-midnight. Open Mon.-Thurs. 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m., Fri. 11 a.m.-midnight, Sat. 11:30 a.m.-midnight, and Sun. 9:30 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday Brunch! Casual dining. All credit cards accepted. railcaromaha.com Stella’s - $ MC, V, AE, DC 402-291-6088 106 S Galvin Road, Bellevue Since 1936, we’ve been making our Stella’s world famous hamburgers the same way. The family secrets have been handed down to each owner to ensure that your burger is the same one you fell in love with the first time you ever tried Stella’s. And if it’s your first time, we know you’ll be back! Mon.–Sat. 11:00 a.m.–9:00 p.m., Sun. closed. stellasbarandgrill.com Upstream Brewing Company - $$ 514 S. 11th St. (402-344-0200) 17070 Wright Plz. (402-778-0100) Upstream features an extensive menu of new American pub fare including appetizers, thin-crust pizzas, superb steaks featuring Omaha Steaks, fresh fish, pasta, salads, sandwiches, and a great children’s menu. Fresh, handcrafted beer and root beer on tap. Extensive wine list. Call ahead for group reservations or to be placed on our waiting list. Visit our classic, upscale poolroom located on the second level.

ICE CREAM Ted and Wally’s - $ MC, V 402-341-5827 1120 Jackson St. Come experience the true taste of homemade ice cream in the Old Market. Since 1986, we’ve created gourmet ice cream flavors in small batches using rock salt and ice. We offer your favorites plus unique flavors like margarita, green tea, Guinness, and French toast. Special orders available.

dining guide Legend $=$1-10 • $$=$10-20 • $$$=$20-30 • $$$$+$30+ MC=Master Card • V=Visa AE=American Express • DC=Discover Card

omaha magazine • july/august 2015



Zesto has been an Omaha staple for over 60 years. With our two locations being voted among Omaha’s Best Ice cream, we pride ourselves in our great customer service and quality products. Visit one of our locations today! Cherry Hills Florence 7130 N. 102 Cir. 8608 N. 30th St. 402-884-7106 402-451-0581

Restaurant & Lounge “Fresh fish, chicken, and house cut steaks served in a rustic and friendly atmosphere” 1006 Cunningham Road, Bellevue 402-292-9963 • catfishlakerestaurant.org

OmahaZesto.com facebook.com/ZestoCherryHills



DOWNTOWN 10th & Capitol 402-763-9974


23rd & Cornhusker 402-292-9096


114th & Dodge 402-498-8855


67th & Center 402-933-3533


180th & Q 402-933-8844



omaha magazine • july/august 2015


dining guide

ITALIAN don carmelo's pizzeria - $ 402-933-3190 10821 Prairie Brook Rd. Omaha's first and finest New York-style pizza, stromboli, calzones, oven-toasted hoagies, Philly cheesesteaks, pasta, salads, beer, and wine. We also feature take-out and delivery and can cater your special event, large or small. Tue.-Thur., 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Fri. & Sat., 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Sun., Noon-8 p.m. La Casa Pizzaria - $$ MC, V 402-556-6464 45th & Leavenworth St. La Casa Pizzaria has been serving Omaha it’s legendary Neapolitan Style pizza and pasta for 60 years now. We offer dine in, carryout, party facilities, catering and now pizza shipments to the 48 contiguous states. Open Tues.- Sat. at 11 a.m. and Sun. at 4:30 p.m. lacasapizzaria.net Lo Sole Mio Ristorante Italiano - $$ 402-345-5656 3001 S. 32nd Ave. Located in the middle of a neighborhood, surrounded by charming homes. Everyone is greeted with homemade bread, a bowl of fresh tomatoes and basil, a bowl of oven-roasted garlic cloves, specialseasoned olive oil, and at night, a jug of Chianti! The menu includes a large variety of pasta, chicken, veal, seafood, and even a delicious New York steak. Traditional dishes such as lasagna, tortellini, and eggplant parmigiana are also available. Lunch also offers panini, salads, and one of the best pizzas in town. Patio seating, full bar, and a great wine list complete the atmosphere. No reservations, except for private rooms. Pitch - $$ MC, V, AE, DC 402- 590-2625 5021 Underwood Ave. Open Table Diners Choice 2014 HotSpot Restaurants in America. Keeping up with the traditional way the first pizzas in Italy were made, our pizzas are cooked in a coal-fired oven. The menu also features seafood, hand-cut steak, housemade pastas, and a burger full of flavor! Our goal is to provide you with local, housemade, and imported ingredients. We offer a Happy Hour menu through the week. And, our bar provides an array of in-house concoctions as well as your traditional libation! Our wine selection is well-thought and most impressive!! You will enjoy Pitch! Mon. 3 p.m.-10 p.m., Tue.-Thur. 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Fri.-Sat. 11 a.m.-11 p.m., Sun. 3 p.m.-10 p.m. pitchpizzeria.com.

Omaha’s Only Authentic German Restaurant Locally Owned Since 1976

Prime Steak Fine Wine Premium Service

German Strudel, Sauerkraut, Schnitzel, & Beer Full bakery, fresh bread, donuts, and cakes!

Check website for bakery, lunch and dinner hours

10 min from downtown Omaha

5180 Leavenworth



13665 California Street Omaha, Nebraska 402.445.4380 www.mahoganyprime.com

Spezia - $$$ MC, V 402-391-2950 3125 S. 72nd St. Choose Spezia for lunch or dinner, where you ll find a casual elegance that s perfect for business guests, get-togethers, or any special occasion. Exceptional food, wine, and service, with a delectable menu: fresh seafood, Certified Angus steaks, innovative pasta, risotto, gnocchi, cioppino, lamb, entrée salads, Mediterranean chicken, flatbreads, and fresh salmon daily. Enjoy a full bar, Italian and California wines, Anniversary Lovers Booth (call to reserve), private dining rooms, and wood-fired grill. Open Mon.-Sun. Cocktail hour: 4-6 p.m., when all cocktails, glass wine, and beers are half price. Evening reservations recommended.


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Private party rooms available for 6 to 40 people.

2015 Winner

10 years in a row

dining guide Legend $=$1-10 • $$=$10-20 • $$$=$20-30 • $$$$+$30+ MC=Master Card • V=Visa AE=American Express • DC=Discover Card

lot2benson.com 6207 Maple St. 402-504-4200

Top 100 Restaurants in America omaha magazine • july/august 2015


dining guide

“Best Burger in Omaha”

ITALIAN Zio’s Pizzeria - $$ MC, V 7834 Dodge St. (402-391-1881) 12997 W. Center Rd. (402-330-1444) 1109 Howard St. (402-344-2222) Delivery, dine in, and carry out. Serving New York style pizza by the slice or whole pies, calzones, hoagies, pastas, salads, and garlic breads. Our pies are hand-stretched and baked in old-world ovens. We offer 35 of the freshest toppings; taste the freshest pizza at Zio’s! Family dining, open seven days a week. Lunch specials and beer and wine available.

Stella’s Bar and Grill ·“Serving World Famous Hamburgers since 1936”

106 Galvin Rd • Bellevue, NE • 402-291-6088 • Open Monday-Saturday, 11:00 am - 9:00 pm

MEXICAN El Alamo - $ MC, V, AE, DC 402-731-8969 4917 S. 24th St. Located in the heart of Omaha’s thriving Hispanic community. We provide catering services and a party room. elalamoomaha.com Fernando’s - $ MC, V, AE 7555 Pacific St. (402-339-8006) 380 N. 114th St. (402-330-5707) Featuring Sonoran-style cooking made fresh daily. Catering and party rooms also available. Mon.-Thu., 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; Sun., 4 p.m.-9 p.m.

LIVE MUSIC FRIDAY NIGHTS SATURDAY NIGHT DJ FEATURING DJ JACK Free dance lessons Featuring The River City Shakers Wed & Thurs from 7-8pm



Thursday night: Rock & Roll Circus & Open Jam



Wed-Sat 6pm-Close & Sunday from 8am-2pm Hours: 5pm-2am Wed-Sat

7401 Main Street 402.593.9037

Hours: 5pm-2am Wed-Sat

8552 Park Drive 402.339.8660 OMAHA’S ORIGINAL STEAKHOUSE

• Proudly serving visitor & locals for 90 years. • Featured on CNN.com Best Meat Cities in America • Serving hand cut steaks, aged on premise and slow roasted prime rib with pride. 402-731-4774 www.johnnyscafe.com 27th & ‘L’ St., Kennedy Frwy, ‘L’ St. Exit 8 Minutes from Downtown Omaha.


omaha magazine • july/august 2015

La Mesa - $$ MC, V 156th & Q St.(402-763-2555) 110th & Maple St.(402-496-1101) Ft. Crook Rd. & 370 (402-733-8754) 84th & Tara Plaza (402-593-0983) Lake Manawa Exit, Council Bluffs, IA (712-256-2762) Come experience an authentic taste experience at La Mesa! From awesome enchiladas to fabulous fajitas, La Mesa has something for every connoisseur of Mexican fare to savor. Get started with one of La Mesa’s famous margaritas! So kick back in our fun-friendly atmosphere and you’ll see why La Mesa has been voted Omaha’s # 1 Mexican Restaurant 11 Years in a Row! www.la-mesa.com Margarita's Mexican Restaurant - $ 2505 S. 132nd St. (402-991-3555) 4915 S. 72nd St. (402-393-7515) Margaritas is a business with more than 7 years in the food world. We offer authentic food at 2 nice locations in Omaha where you can enjoy a nice moment with your family.

SEAFOOD Charlie’s on the Lake - $$ 402-894-9411 4150 . 144th St. Charlie’s is the only fresh-fish-daily seafood restaurant in Omaha. Features a relaxed yet contemporary atmosphere that is fun for all ages. Besides fresh seafood, Charlie’s is the home of the James Bond-style martini (shaken, not stirred) in over 20 varieties in addition to over 60 wines. Mon.-Thu., 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Fri. 11 a.m. - 11 p.m. Sat., 4:30 p.m.-11 p.m.; Sun., 4:30 p.m.-10 p.m.

Best Of Omaha 9 Years Running

dining guide Legend


$=$1-10 • $$=$10-20 • $$$=$20-30 • $$$$+$30+ MC=Master Card • V=Visa AE=American Express • DC=Discover Card

The Grey Plume Award-Winning Wine List. Certifed Green Restaurant. Daily Changing Menu. Seasonally Driven. Locally Sourced.


Hand-stretched New York style pizza

220 S. 31st Ave Suite 3101 Midtown Crossing 402.763.4447 www.thegreyplume.com



Retail Store Private Dining Cooking Classes



7834 Dodge St.


12997 W. Center Rd.


1109 Howard St. (Old Market)


3157 Farnam Street, Suite 7106 | Midtown Crossing


402.763.4447 | www.thegreyplume.com

Thank you Omaha for voting us Best Family Restaurant!

“Serving The Best Chicken in Town Since 1997” Mai Thai Restaurant brings you the most authentic Thai cusine in Omaha, in a beautiful, contemporary, atmosphere. Harvey Oaks Plaza & Aksarben Village 402.333.0506 402.884.7888

13325 Millard Ave. • 402-891-9292 www.millardroadhouse.com


omaha magazine • july/august 2015


dining guide


SPECIAL DINING Bushwackers- $ 402-593-9037 7401 Main St., Ralston, NE Live music every Fri. night and DJ on Sat. night. Free dance lessons every Wed. and Thur. night from 7-8pm. Now serving food Wed.-Sun. Crescent Moon Ale House - $ 402-345-1708 3578 Farnam St. Founded in 1996, we’ve grown into Beer Corner USA with the additions of The Huber Haus German Beer Hall, Max and Joe’s Belgian Beer Tavern, and Beertopia, Omaha’s Ultimate Beer Store. With more than 60 beers on tap and Omaha’s best reuben sandwich, we are a midtown beer lover’s destination. Hours: Mon.-Sat., 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Kitchen hours: Mon.-Wed., 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; Thurs.-Sat. 11 a.m.-midnight. Closed Sun. www.beercornerusa.com. The Chrome 402-339-8660 8552 Park Dr. Live music every Fri. and Sat. nights. Song writer night on Thur.

Join us for one of our monthly beer tastings

501 N. 13th Street | 402.346.9116 | www.themattomaha.com Walking Distance to CenturyLink Center & TD Ameritrade Park

Serving Homemade Food for Over 30 Years M-F: 6am-3pm

Sat-Sun: 6:30am-3pm

4950 Dodge Street 402-502-9156 | duggerscafe.com

Cut Spike Distillery 402-763-8868 11941 Centennial Rd. Cut Spike Distillery is a craft distillery located in La Vista, Nebraska specializing in distilling premium artisan spirits. Visit us and taste our award winning single malt whiskey, our award winning premium vodka, and our newly released barrel aged rum. Proudly distilling since 2008. Gerda’s German Restaurant and Bakery - $ 402-553-6774 5188 Leavenworth St. Omaha’s only authentic German restaurant; a little piece of Germany in Omaha. Gerda herself makes homemade spaetzle, schnitzels, and rouladen Fresh-made soups, red cabbage, sauerkraut, and dumplings are a few other treats. Stay for a dessert of Black Forest cake or grab fresh bakery for breakfast on your way out. Check hours at gerdasgermanrestaurant.com. Grand China Buffet - $$ 402-504-3711 11226 Chicago Cir. "Grand China Buffet is located 1 block south of 114th St. & Dodge. Our restaurant is dedicated to offering the most memorable dinning experience for you. We provide a party Room & Catering Service for all occasions. A carry out buffet is also available. Greek Islands - $ M C, V, AE, DC 402-346-1528 3821 Center St. Greek cuisine with specials every day at reasonable prices. Well known for our gyro sandwiches and salads. We cater and can accommodate a party for 65 guests. Carryout and delivery available. Mon.-Thu., 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sun., 11 a.m.-8 p.m.

STEAKS • CHOPS • SEAFOOD ITALIAN SPECIALTIES 7 private party rooms Seating up to 400 Lots of parking

dining guide Legend 1620 S. 10th Street




omaha magazine • july/august 2015

$=$1-10 • $$=$10-20 • $$$=$20-30 • $$$$+$30+ MC=Master Card • V=Visa AE=American Express • DC=Discover Card

Since 1921

Make Today Amazing! a n d S w t i a c e h h W y e n Ho our mo Start y

r ning with a

Rotella toast stack!


omaha magazine • july/august 2015



Carry Out Buffet Available Beer & Wine Available www.gcbne.com

45th & Leavenworth • 402-556-6464 Closed Monday


Thank You for voting us #1 Best Greek Best Greek.

Escape the hustle and bustle of the city. Come join us for Lakeside dining featuring Steaks, Seafood and Sandwiches.

Family Owned Since 1983

Catering ~ Party Room Available Homemade, Fresh Food ~ Always

Mention this ad & receive a Free appetizer!

3821 Center St. 402/346-1528

980 County Rd. W. (Fremont) 402-721-2922 | woodcliffrestaurant.com


El Basha O’Connor’s Irish Pub 1217 Howard St. • Omaha, NE 68102 402-934-9790 • oconnorsomaha.com

Mediterranean Grill

Family Owned & Operated Authentic Italian Cuisine Party Rooms Available Carry Out Available

Serving Lunch & Dinner


Thank You Omaha for voting us Best Eastern European Dining 3001 S. 32nd Ave • Omaha, NE 402-345-5656


omaha magazine • july/august 2015

7503 Pacific St. 402-934-6266 elbashagrill.com

Mon.-Thur. 11:00am—8:30pm • Fri.-Sat. 11:00am—9:00pm • Sun. 12:00pm—7:00pm

dining guide

SPECIAL DINING Guckenheimer - $ 1200 Douglas St. - Holland Performing Arts Center 1400 Douglas St - The Dining Room at Union Pacific Featuring 2 great dining experiences. The Dining Room at Union Pacific features International cuisine with fresh, local, and seasonal ingredients. We are open for breakfast and lunch. The Holland Performing Arts Center features Zinc, a full service upscale dining experience, and Ovations Bar & Lounge. Open before and after performances. Horsemen’s Park- $ MC, V 402-731-2900 6303 Q St. One-dollar pints, $1.75 domestic bottles, and $2 well drinks for our happy hour Mon.-Wed., 5 p.m.-8 p.m. Tuesdays are 25-cent wings from 3-8 p.m., Wednesdays are Steak Night after 5 p.m., Thursdays are 75-cent tacos and $1.75 margaritas after 5 p.m., and Fridays are Prime Rib Dinner after 5 p.m. Daily specials seven days a week. Open at 10 a.m. www.horsemenspark.com Jaipur Indian Restaurant and Brewery $$$ MC, V 402-392-7331 10922 Elm St. A casual restaurant in a relaxed atmosphere. Dinner entrees include fresh vegetables, grilled Colorado lamb sirloin, sushi-grade Ahi, tandoori marinated grilled salmon, and tandoori grilled beef tenderloin to name a few. A wide selection of wines and liquor, as well as on-site brewed beer. Lunch: Thurs. and Fri., 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Dinner: Sun.-Thurs., 5 p.m.-9:30 p.m.; Fri and Sat., 5 p.m.-10:30 p.m. King Kong - $ 402-553-3326 4409 Dodge St. (Multiple Locations) Come in hungry to King Kong and enjoy one of our 2 lb Super Kong burgers. We also have classic gyros, greek salad with pita and baklava for dessert. Visit our newly renovated 44th & Dodge Street location today or any our other 3 Omaha locations or one in Lincoln. Daily, 10 a.m.-10 p.m., Sun., 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Daily Specials served Mon.-Fri. www.kingkongfastfood.com Nosh Restaurant and Wine Lounge - $$ 402-614-2121 1006 Dodge St. Located in downtown Omaha blocks away from the CenturyLink Center Omaha, Holland Performing Arts, and the Old Market—Nosh is the perfect place to gather and celebrate good times. Guests are sure to enjoy our comfortable relaxing atmosphere, diverse wine list, impressive cocktails and food that will please any palate. noshwine.com O’Connor’s Irish Pub - $ 402-934-9790 1217 Howard St. Comfortable, relaxing atmosphere. Great before and after games. We offer pub style food—burgers, reubens, daily specials, and homemade soups—as well as all the traditional Irish favorite libations: Guinness, Harp, and Irish whiskey. Grill hours: Mon.-Thu., 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 11 a.m.-10 p.m.

dining guide Legend $=$1-10 • $$=$10-20 • $$$=$20-30 • $$$$+$30+

Always a Large Selection of Fresh Fish

4150 SOUTH 144TH STREET • OMAHA • 894-9411


Whiskey Steak Hours: Mon.-Fri. 11am-2pm Cocktail Hour: 3pm-5pm Dinner nightly from 5pm Reservations Accepted Gift Cards Available

Voted Best of Omaha 4 years in a row

MC=Master Card • V=Visa AE=American Express • DC=Discover Card

2121 South 73rd Street | 402-391-7440 | DroverRestaurant.com omaha magazine • july/august 2015




f 1120 Jackson Street (402) 341-5827 tedandwallys.com

8 Years In A Row

Mandarin • Hunan Szechuan • Cantonese Shanghai 4040 N 132nd St (132 & Maple) 402.493.277 | GoldenPalaceNE.com

2202 South 20th Street – Omaha

Celebrating 27 Years! Come in for a taste of one of our amazing specials!

402.391.5047 7425 Dodge St. www.sushiomaha.com

Family Restaurant • Fine Steaks Chicken • Seafood Party Rooms Available

342-9038 • 346-2865 Bringing Italy to Omaha

for Over 90 Years

Try Omaha’s Favorite Reuben! Omaha’s largest selection of craft beers.

3578 Farnam St • 402-345-1708 www.beercornerusa.com

dining guide

SPECIAL DINING Sakura Bana - $ MC, V 402-391-5047 7425 Dodge St. California Rolls, sushi and box lunches are among the specialties here. Menu favorites include beef teriyaki, chicken teriyaki and udon, a flavorful noodle soup served with Tempura Shrimp or Mountain Vegetables. Multiple combinations of sushi or rolls can be ordered from your table or from the sushi bar. California Rolls and Tuna Sushi are the most popular choices. Mon.-Fri., 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m.; Sat. 11:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.; Mon.-Thur., 5-9 p.m.; Fri.-Sat. 5-10 p.m.; Sun. 5-9 p.m. www.sushiomaha.com Salt 88 - $$ 402-991-9088 3623 N. 129th St. Brought to you by the owners of Hiro 88, Salt is a New American adventure in cuisine. Its a restaurant supported by a friendly staff, savory appetizers, and, most importantly, free cotton candy at the end of your meal. Guests are sure to notice that not only is the food unique, but its ambiance feels modern and inviting, making your meal not just delicious, but memorable. Open daily at 11am. salt88.com storz trophy room - $$ 402-502-1643 345 Riverfront Dr. Storz Brewing is a 150 year old family brewery, once the 4th largest brewery in the USA founded in 1863. Patio now open. Open daily at 11 a.m. Closed Mon. Online at storzbrewing.com The Woodcliff Restaurant - $$ 402-721-2922 980 County Rd. W., Fremont, NE The Woodcliff Restaurant takes lakeside dining to a new level. Our accomplished Chefs deliver a wide selection of traditional favorites and new experimental cuisine. We also offer a refined selection of wine and spirits. Zesto Ice Cream & Grill - $ 7130 N. 102nd Cr. (402-884-7106) Cherry Hills 8608 N. 30th St. (402-451-0581) Florence Zesto has been an Omaha staple for over 60 years, With our 2 locations being voted among Omaha's best Ice Cream. We pride ourselves on our great customer service and quality products.

STEAKHOUSES Orsi’s is famous for our pizza. Our Italian Deli features a variety of meats, homemade sausage, cakes, cannolis, cheese and bread products.

621 Pacific St, Omaha • 402-345-3438 www.orsibakery.com

801 Chophouse - $$$$ 402-341-1222 1403 Farnam St. Designed with a 1920s-era New York chophouse in mind, 801 is the epitome of elegance. You will not forget the crisp-white-tablecloth, fine-dining experience. From our USDA prime-grade beef and jetfresh seafood from all over the world, we are truly the best Omaha has to offer. Open seven nights a week.

brews cafes chef profiles cocktails dining reviews farmers markets recipies taverns treats

Sonoran Style Cooking Made Fresh Daily. Catering and Party Rooms Also Available. 7555 Pacific St. 399–8006 380 N.114 St. 330–5707 Omaha, Nebraska


omaha magazine • july/august 2015


dining guide Legend $=$1-10 • $$=$10-20 • $$$=$20-30 • $$$$+$30+ MC=Master Card • V=Visa AE=American Express • DC=Discover Card

dining guide

STEAKHOUSES Brother Sebastians - $$$ 402-330-0300 1350 S 119th St Relax in the cozy old world comfort of an early California monastery with friendly “monks” that pamper you in subdued, romantic surroundings, and savor the fresh, full flavors of U.S.D.A. Choice Nebraska Angus Beef seared over an open flame. Brother Sebastian’s Steak House and Winery is locally owned and has been recognized as one of Omaha’s best restaurants for a delicious, romantic dining experience. Join us with your party of two or fifty and we’ll help make your special occasion enjoyable and memorable. Reservations accepted. Lunch: Mon.-Fri. 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Dinner: Mon-Thur. 5-9 p.m., Fri.-Sat. 5-10 p.m., Sun. 4-9 p.m. Cascios - $$ 402-345-8313 1620 S. 10th St. Cascios is Omaha's Number 1 steakhouse. We have been serving Omaha for 69 years. We feature Steaks, Chops, Seafood and Italian Specialties. We Have 7 Private Party Rooms, seating for up to 400 people and plenty of parking.

The Holland Performing Arts Ctr Zinc Full Service Upscale Dining Ovations Bar and Lounge

1200 Douglas St. Downtown Omaha Open Before and After Performances Visit us @ OmahaPerformingArts.org

The Dining Room 1400 Douglas st. Downtown Omaha OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

International Cuisine

with Fresh, Local, Seasonal Ingredients

Open Daily for Breakfast & Lunch 6:30 am – 1:30 pm Visit us @ cafeatup.com

The Drover Restaurant & Lounge - $$$ 402-391-7440 2121 S. 73rd St. Famous for the original Whiskey Steak. Truly a one of a kind Midwestern experience. Excellent food, wine, service and value. Rare...and very well done. Reservations accepted. Lunch: Mon.–Fri. 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. Cocktail Hour: 3-6 p.m. Dinner: Nightly at 5 p.m. Reservations accepted. Johnny's Café - $$$ MC, V, AE 402-731-4774 4702 S. 27th St. Years of quality dining and hospitality make Johnny's Café a restaurant to remember. We serve only the finest beef the Midwest has to offer. Aged steaks and prime rib are the specialties, with homemade bread and pies to complete a meal. An excellent wine list adds to the enjoyment at one of Omaha's original restaurants. Hours: Mon.-Sat., 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and 5 p.m.-9:30 p.m. Mahogany Prime Steakhouse - $$$$ 402-445-4380 13665 California St. This is a restaurant where steak is the star, using custom-aged, U.S. prime Midwestern beef known for its excellence in marbling, texture, and flavor. We serve it sizzling on a heated plate so that it stays hot throughout your meal. Amazing service in a less-intimidating, fine-dining atmosphere. Piccolo’s Restaurant - $$$ 402-342-9038 2202 S. 20th St. One of Omaha’s finest traditions, this is where quality steaks are served at low prices. Especially designed for a family outing or a business social. The specialty is tasty prime rib, served for the last 60 years under the crystal ball. Lunch: Mon.-Fri., 11 a.m.1:30 p.m. Dinner: Mon.-Thu., 5 p.m.-9 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 5 p.m.-10 p.m.; Sun., 4 p.m.-8 p.m. Daily and nightly specials.


The Best in Town Tasty & Authentic Mexican Food Stop in today! 4917 S 24th Street |402-731-8969 | elalamoomaha.com

THANKS FOR VOTING US #1 BREAKFAST 7 Years in a Row! 177th & Center • 934-9914 | 156th & Dodge • 408-1728 | 120th & Blondo • 991-8222 Drive-Thru Open (Center St. Only) • Open Daily 6:30am-2:00pm • Serving Breakfast & Lunch All Day! omaha magazine • july/august 2015


Sponsored by




5:08 PM

happy hour Daily open - 7pm

Special Happy Hour Menu

3:59pm - 6:59pm & 9:01pm -12:01am

Heated Outdoor Patio 12015 blondo st. 402.493.7607 phoenixfoodandspiritsomaha.com

Happy Hour Specials

Everyday 4PM-6PM Friday & Saturday 10PM-12AM

STOP IN FOR HAPPY HOUR SPECIALS “Just a Wink from the Link” 501 N. 13th St. | 402.346.9116 www.themattomaha.com

Join the “Home of the Bowl of Beer” for Happy Hour

Monday-Saturday 4:00-7:00 p.m.

$2 Off any Wine by the Glass | $3 Domestic Beers | $4 Wells $5 Select Martinis | $4 Hummus or Chorizo Nachos $5 Bruschetta or Spinach and Artichoke Dip $6 Margherita Flatbread or Duck Tacos

www.noshwine.com 1006 Dodge St | 402.614.2121


14110 S. St. 402-991-2663 addysbar.com



omaha magazine • july/august 2015



Share your photos of Omaha and be featured here. #omamag











Come explore

t& n e t n o c h s e r f the LY W E r N u o f o s e r u t fea site! b e w d e n g i s e d re com . y p r a s o g . w w w

iV sit Sarpy County, Nebraska. l c u o f m r e m d n u o nities. w x i S One great time!







Fontenelle Forest

Nebraska Crossing Outlet


Werner Park

Soaring Wings Vineyard

On the Runway

For more info, visit us at www.gosarpy.com or call


omaha magazine • july/august 2015


Ongoing Sioux City Art Center. The Sioux City Art Center presents exhibitions of local, national and international artists.  Grant Wood’s Corn Room mural is shown in its entirety in a gallery especially created for it. Also on exhibition (through Aug. 2) is Epilogue, a collection of photography by Michelle Bablitz. 10 am to 4 pm Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday; 10 am to 9 pm Thursday; and 1-4 pm Sunday. 712-279-6272 - siouxcityartcenter.org July Picture This: Nebraska Poet Laureate Twyla Hansen. Through July 19 at the Museum of Nebraska Art in Kearney, Neb.  John T. Price, author of Man Killed by Pheasant and Other Kinships, said this about Twyla Hansen and Linda M. Hasselstrom’s collaborative collection of poems Dirt Songs: A Plains Duet: “Two of the most significant poetic voices in our region, our nation­­—together at last. The music they create is a miracle, born of the generations, of soil and sky, wildflowers and birdsong, flesh and spirit. This book is a song to help reorient our relationship to the earth and to each other. A song to live by.” 11-5pm. 308-865-8559. - mona.unk.edu Cowboy Night. July 5 at Stuhr Museum in Grand Island, Neb.  Saddle up for an evening of ropin’, cookin’, and country fun during the triumphant return of “Cowboy Night.” This is an evening full of authentic cowboy flavor and country fun. In addition to the food cooked over an open campfire, s’ mores, old-fashioned games, roping, wood branding, and more, the event will feature a live wild horse breaking demonstration. Over the course of several hours, a real cowboy will saddle and ride a horse that’s never been ridden before. 6-9pm. 308-385-5316 - stuhrmuseum.org

The 2015 Nebraska State Fair runs from August 28 through September 7 in Grand Island. Since moving to Grand Island, the State Fair has seen over 1.6 million fairgoers pass through the gates to take in the concerts, stage acts, strolling acts, fair food, 4-H and FFA displays and more. The Nebraska State Fair is a mirror image of our state from rural to urban and features a great experience for every member of the family. We urge you to take the short trip to unforgettable. The Nebraska State Fair, beginning August 28 in Grand Island. More details at StateFair.org

Omaha has been the Triple-A franchise of the defending American League champion Kansas City Royals since 1969, but never has the circuit’s biggest showcase made a stop in Nebraska. Now the top prospects and tomorrow's stars of Major League Baseball will face off July 15 at Werner Park in the Triple-A All-Star Game hosted by the Omaha Storm Chasers. All-Star Week in Omaha also features the Home Run Derby and All-Star Luncheon, once-in-a-lifetime experiences leading up to the 28th meeting between the top players in the top level of Minor League Baseball.

omaha magazine • july/august 2015



calendar  july/august 2015

Madison County Fair 7 Rodeo. July 7-12 at Madison County Fairgrounds in Madison, Neb. Midstates Rodeo, 4-H Exhibits, fair food, and rides. Saturday, July 11 will feature Lee Brice. Sunday, July 12, will feature Big & Rich. - madisonfaircounty.org

Neil Young. July 11 at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Neb.  Neil Young and Promise of the Real have joined forces to release a new studio album, entitled “The Monsanto Years,” via Reprise Records. Tickets on sale now. 7:30-11pm. 402-904-4444 - pinnaclebankarena.com

Night Street Drag Racing. July 8 at Motorsport Park Hastings MPH in Hastings, Neb. Full concessions will be provided. 6-10pm. $5 admission, $35 driver racing. 402-461-8031 - racemph.com

Hear Nebraska. July 17-25. Various cities.  Nonprofit music organization Hear Nebraska will feature 27 of Nebraska’s top, all-original bands and an associated storytelling project will feature music and arts-related feature stories. 402.216.1354 - hearnebraska.org Kenny Chesney. July 17 at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Neb.  Having sold in excess of one million tickets each of his headlining tours, Chesney is the only country artist in Billboard’s Top 10 Tour Acts of the last 25 years – and that’s with only 12 years as a headliner. 8-11pm. Tickets on sale now. 402-904-4444 - pinnaclebankarena.com

80/35 Music Festival. July 10-11, Western Gateway Park in Des Moines, Iowa.  This quick road trip to the intersection of two interstates provides music in a variety of genres, from the bluegrass of Hot Buttered Rum to rock band Weezer. Tickets $50 per day or $90 for a two-day pass. 515-822-5082 -2015.80-35.com John C. Fremont Days. July 10-12, city-wide in Fremont, Neb.  John C. Fremont Days is a historic festival held the second full weekend of July each year in Fremont, Neb. The purpose of the event is to celebrate our history and the namesake of our community, Gen. John C. Fremont. Events include a beer garden, Chautauqua-style entertainment, sporting events, rough stock rodeo, food courts, children's activities, entertainment, historic displays and encampments, parade, and much, much more. Most events are free and family-friendly. 402-727-9428 - johncfremontdays.org GermanFest. July 11, city-wide in Syracruse, Neb.  Celebrate German heritage with the Seventh Annual Viener (Dachshund) Dog Races, Viener Vogue (fashion for dogs), show and shine vehicle show, parade, German entertainment, KinderFun, two-block beer garden, Fun Run, Market at GermanFest, winetasting, RibFest, and street dance. Admission to beer garden during the day. The beer garden admission is also the ticket for the evening street dance. 402-269-7489 - gosyracrusene.com


omaha magazine • july/august 2015

Camp Creek Threshing 39th Annual Show. July 18-19 at 17200 Bluff Road in Waverley, Neb.  Good food and fun for the whole family. Fun antique tractor pull both days at 11 am, parade of power at 2 pm both days, children's pedal tractor pull at 11 am on Sunday only. Activities all day long, something for everyone. Saturday 6am5pm, Sunday 6am-4pm. Admission $7. 402-786-3003 - ccthreshers.org The Doobie Brothers. July 19 at the Divots Conference Center in Norfolk, Neb.  The Doobie Brothers is an American rock band that has sold more than 40 million albums worldwide throughout its career. 6-10pm. 888-355-0553 - divotsconcertseries.com

Ronny Cox, “Songs, Stories, and Out & Out Lies.” July 24 through 26 at Brownville Concert Hall, Brownville, Neb.  This singer-songwriter, musician, and actor has performed for over 40 years. Many may remember the movie “Deliverance,” in which Ronny himself was one of the guitar players for Dueling Banjos. Tickets $25 each, or $19 each for Sunday matinee performance. 402-825-3331. -brownvilleconcertseries.com State Games of America. July 28-August 2, city-wide in Lincoln, Neb.  All-ages, all-abilities athletic festival with 60 sports conducted at venues in Lincoln, Omaha, and surrounding communities. 20,000 athletes expected to participate, including 14,000 Nebraskans and 6,000 qualifiers from State Games events held in 32 states across the U.S. 402-471-2544 - sga2015.com Jim Gaffigan. July 31 at the Pinewood Bowl Amphitheater in Lincoln, Neb.  Jim Gaffigan is a Grammy-nominated comedian, New York Times Best Selling author, top touring performer, and multi-platinum selling father of five. 8-11pm. Tickets $45-$85. 402-904-4444 - pinewoodbowltheater.com Wilber Czech Festival. July 31-August 2, city-wide in Wilbur, Neb.  Czech dancing and music, authentic food and costumes, bands, three parades, and contests in the Czech Capital of Nebraska. - nebraskaczechsofwilber.com Hinterland Music Festival . July 31-August 1, Water Works Park, Des Moines, Iowa.  A variety of music, including rock ’n roll, pop, folk, and bluegrass, will fill the air during this two-day festival. Onsite camping may also be arranged separately. - hinterlandiowa.com

Nebraska’s Big Rodeo. July 22-25 Nestled in rural Nebraska.  Burwell captures the essence of the Midwest with this rodeo. The three-day event includes favorites such as barrel riding, calf roping, and bull riding. - nebraskasbigrodeo.com

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omaha magazine • july/august 2015



calendar  july/august 2015

AUGUST Looking Back Looking Forward: Native American Art from the Permanent Collection. Through August 1 at the Great Plains Art Museum in Lincoln, Neb.  Inspired by the Standing Bear and the Trail Ahead Symposium, Looking Back, Looking Forward: Native American Art from the Permanent Collection features different forms of artistic expression found in Native American artworks from the Great Plains Art Museum’s permanent collection. 402-472-0602 - unl.edu

Kool-Aid After Dark. August 7 at Hastings Museum in Hastings, Neb.  This is a great evening of activities featuring lots of glow-in-the-dark fun. Plans are underway. It’s the perfect start to Kool-Aid Days. 402-461-2399 - hastingsmuseum.org

Visual Cather: The Writer’s Pictorial Imagination. Through August 30 at the Sheldon Museum of Art in Lincoln, Neb.  Willa Cather (1873–1947) was a dedicated viewer of performance, of places, and also of fine art

Dierks Bentley. August 9 at the Divots Conference Center in Norfolk, Neb.  Including openers Joe Hyde and Randy Houser. 5-11pm. Tickets $49.50. 888-355-0553 - divotsconcertseries.com

Farm-Living History Day. August 9 at Wessels Living History Farm in York, Neb.  History comes alive with exhibits and demonstrations, wagon rides, music and vendors. 9:30am-4:30pm. 402-710-0682 - livinghistoryfarm.org

Quarter Horse Races. Weekends, August 15 through October 10 in Des Moines, Iowa.  Come see one of America’s best sprinting horse breeds race live. 800-325-9015 - prairiemeadows.com Next YP’s Fifth Annual Beer & Wine Festival. August 15 at 18th St & Broadway in Scottsbluff, Neb. Save

2015 Ponca Tribe of Nebraska Annual Pow Wow. August 7-9 at the Ponca Tribal Museum in Ponca, Neb.  The annual powwow has an important place in the tribe’s cultural history. It’s a time for tribal members and visitors to come together to reunite with old friends and family and to make new friends by sharing laughter, tears, food and traditions. A wide variety of dances and drums are featured throughout the powwow, and it is an opportunity to support each other and help bring younger members into the circle. Free admission. - poncatribe-ne.org

Sunday Afternoon with Tom & Huck. August 16 at Stuhr Museum in Grand Island, Neb.  Based on Mark Twain’s classic stories involving Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, history, literature, and country fun collide during this unique afternoon of fishing and games. 12-5pm. Tickets $10 for adults, $8 for children. 308-385-5316 - stuhrmuseum.org

omaha magazine • july/august 2015

Nebraska State Fair. August 28-Septem-

Women of Faith: Loved, The Farewell Tour. August 28-29 at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Neb.  You are seen. You are known. You are free. Connect with a community of women that gets what you’re going through and with the God who loves you more than you know. Friday 7pm-10pm, Saturday 9am-5pm. 402.904.4444 - pinnaclebankarena.com

National Hobo Convention. August 3-9 in Britt, Iowa.  Hobos are often associated as being loners, but this weekend, several hobos (and nonhobos) will gather to read hobo poetry and eat free mulligan stew, among many other activities. 641-843-3734 -brittiowa.com/hobo


Shootout at the Kimball Korral. August 22-23 at the High Point Welcome Center of West Nebraska in Kimball, Neb.  Combine expert marksmanship with expert horsemanship into a two-day competition and it becomes an exciting event for all ages. 10am-4pm. 308-241-0878 - kimballne.org

ber 7 in Grand Island, Neb.  The Nebraska State Fair is an 11-day event that offers hundreds of exhibits, live entertainment stages, national concerts, food vendors, the largest livestock show in the state, a fun-filled Family Fun Zone, parades, and much more. 308-382-1620 - statefair.org

and architecture. Her fiction, her journalism, and her letters are filled with references and allusions to works that provoked and inspired her. Scholars have recently begun to appreciate just how powerful a cultural critic Cather was—with her deep and informed interest in a range of cultural production, not only literature. This exhibition focuses on Cather’s personal and professional interest in art—from being influenced by late nineteenth-century French painting, to diligently editorializing the illustrations for her novels and artfully crafting her own image as a literary icon. 402-472-2461. - sheldonartmuseum.org Heart of America Hot Dog Festival. August 1 in Kansas City, Mo. This family-friendly festival, located near the American Negro Baseball League museum site, offers lots of fun, and lots of weiners. Food/drink must be bought separately from admission tickets. 816-221-1920 -hoahotdogfestival.com

Keys show takes popular songs, requested by the audience, and encourage singing along and other participation. You will hear comedic lyrics in place of some standard lyrics, fun with audience members on and off stage, and a high-energy mix of music and comedy. Whether you're 18 or 80, a rocker or a redneck—you'll have fun with a 176 Keys show. 7:30-9:30pm. 308-832-0588 - mindenoperahouse.com

the date for the Panhandle's only Beer & Wine Festival. Details and tickets released soon! 4-8pm. - nextyoungprofessionals.com

Dueling Pianos by 176 Keys Fun Pianos. August 21 at the Minden Opera House in Minden, Neb.  Dueling Pianos is not a concert. The 176

Mud Run. August 29 at Lancaster Event Center in Lincoln, Neb.  Nebraska's Original Mud Run, conducted by the Nebraska Sports Council. Choose from 6-mile, 3-mile and 1-mile options and have a muddy blast negotiating a mud-laden obstacle course featuring multiple mud pits, a creek crossing, and the famous giant slip-slide. Modern Monks afterparty features great food, music, video highlights and medals presentation, and participants age 21 and over enjoy a free Modern Monks beverage. Sponsored by Scheels and the Nebraska Lottery. 402-471-2544 - nscevents.com/mudrun

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omaha magazine • july/august 2015



by robert nelson

That Damn Ernie Chambers! He’s self-absorbed, self-righteous, and infuriating. And he’s absolutely necessary.


y 88-year-old motherin-law had never visited the

Nebraska State Capitol in her 40 years of living in the state. She mentioned this often during a long visit to our home this spring. “I don’t feel like a real Nebraskan,” she joked. Her visit to our house was extended because we have had trouble finding her the assisted-living home she now needs. She mentioned the Capitol daily because rapidly progressing dementia is quickly erasing her memory of even the most recent conversations. So I drove her to that masterpiece of architecture and art, that message to the world that this little state can do big, bold things. I’m a cynic to a great fault, but I still walk the second floor there with pride and childlike wonder. How magnificent. And there’s the bust of my hero, Loren Eiseley (I can feel the graceful, melancholy rhythms of All the Strange Hours every time I see this likeness). There are the doors of the second chamber of the Legislature so boldly sealed. Appropriately, the bust of George Norris is just down the hall. As we stood in the rotunda amid spastic gaggles of school children, my mother-in-law asked if we could walk over to the legislative chamber that wasn’t shuttered. She heard a voice over the Nebraska Legislature’s public address system that drew her to the glass doors of the chamber. “I know that voice,” she said. “That’s Ernie Chambers.”


omaha magazine • july/august 2015

Her visit to the second floor of the Nebraska State Capitol was complete. She got to see Ernie Chambers filibustering in the Unicameral. There are few people about whom I have a more conflicted opinion. At that moment, the hallway outside the chamber was full of people waiting to get on with the business of the state. But, Ernie was inside mucking things up with a diatribe defending his nowinfamous earlier comments about Omaha police being more a threat to him and other Omaha black men than ISIS. Fine, I thought. Stand your ground. But get in and get out. You’re on the clock here, Senator. At that point, I felt like my taxes were paying for him to once again pleasure himself with the sound of his own voice. Who else in this state is this self-absorbed, this rude? “He’s the check,” my mother-in-law said as she listened. “What do you mean?” I assumed her mind was elsewhere. “The balance,” she said. “He balances things out. Makes people reconsider things. I’ve always respected that.” And so I reconsidered. I always do with Ernie. I considered the times over the last 20 years that I’ve spoken with him about faulty legislation and likely injustices. He always seemed to be present when something needed questioning. And it wasn’t just about north Omaha and African-American issues. He once called me to ask if I knew anything about a shady arrest in my hometown of Falls City. Some white woman may have been wronged

100 miles from his district and he cared enough to make a call to a reporter. That Unicameral moves more smoothly than any state legislature in the country. But sometimes things run too smoothly—comity isn’t always the ideal. Ernie sometimes serves as the brakeman to a middle-class white-guy locomotive that occasionally barrels through the better angels of our nature. And, how important has he been to many Nebraskans? Well, for one, my 88-year-old mother-in-law from Hastings suffering from a form of dementia that makes her forget she’s from Hastings immediately remembered the lyrical voice of Ernie Chambers and immediately remembered what that voice has meant to her and her state. Ernie’s voice echoed through the Nebraska Hall of Fame that day. As my mother-in-law stood there intently watching Ernie incessantly vamp, I imagined these halls on a late night long past closing time sometime in the future. I saw all the busts come to life. And there was Ernie arguing to the contrary with them all.  OMAG

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