A supplement of Suburban Newspapers Inc.
March 26, 2014
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Networking with a twist Lively and fun By Tom Knox SUBURBAN NEWSPAPERS INC.
Now for some fun networking. The Ralston Area Chamber of Commerce will host its second Schmooz-A-Palooza networking exp on May 1 from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Ralston Arena, 7300 Q St. “Feedback from last year’s event was fantastic,” said Tara Lea, chamber president. “This is not your typical trade show,” she said. With Great Western Bank as the presenting sponsor, the search is on for other sponsors, including a games sponsor. The chamber is looking forward to another fun-filled event, she said. More than 300 attended last year’s event, according to the chamber. “Numbers were up quite a bit from the past expos we had done,” Lea said. The chamber is hoping to capitalize on the positive energy from last year’s event and increase attendance this year. After analyzing last year’s event use of space, there will be room for a few more vendors this year.
“Being it was the events first year, we didn’t really know what to expect. We ended up selling out the tables,” Lea said. The Schmooz-A-Palooza was born after it became clear that the chamber wasn’t getting the attendance it hoped for with its more traditional expos. The lively, happy-hour type of atmosphere includes games and prizes from some sponsors. Attendees will have a chance to meet and greet other guests, exhibitors and business owners while perusing tables displaying their products or services. The expo also will include music and food tastings. Chamber members can reserve 6-foot tables for $125; the price is $250 for non-members. A number of sponsorships are available. Admission is $5 at the door or a canned food donation. For more information, contact the chamber at 402-339-7737 or ralstonareachamber.org or visit their Facebook page (search for Ralston Area Chamber of Commerce).
s u b u r b a n n e w s pa p e r s i n c .
The Schmooz-A-Palooza networking expo, hosted by the Ralston Area Chamber of Commerce was well attended last year. This year’s expo is May 1 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Ralston Arena.
neighborhood location: Brentwood Square 402-593-8900 8114 S 84th Street, La Vista Applewood Center 402-592-4003 9757 Q Street, Omaha Monarch Place 402-339-1646 11425 S 72nd Street, Papillion Twin Creek 402-291-1011 3604 Twin Creek, Bellevue Wolf Creek 402-291-1772 10503 S 15th, STE 102, Bellevue
Hotel part of master plan for Arena area Many attendees leave Ralston after an event. The Holiday Inn Express under construction should help change that. By Adam Klinker SUBURBAN NEWSPAPERS INC.
In the last year, the Ralston Arena has hosted concerts, youth hockey tournaments, youth wrestling tournaments, a craft show, a bridal show and a few dozen wedding parties. Every attendee who made it to one of those events went somewhere else when the event was over. For some, it was a walk up Q Street and back home, for others, it was off to another venue to continue the fun. And for out-of-town visitors, it might have been to a hotel. Late this summer, when an 87-room Holiday Inn Express opens next door to the arena, the city is hoping it can entice more arena-goers to stick around, especially those who have traveled long distances and are looking for a place to sleep.
“It’ll help the whole arena overall, to get that hotel open there,” Ralston Mayor Don Groesser said. “We think we’ll see more people coming to more activities and staying longer in our city. There’s a great opportunity here.” Adding an arena-adjacent hotel has always been part of the master plan for the Ralston Arena, Groesser said. In August 2011, as the first beams at the venue started to go up, the city council approved Ralston’s first-ever hotel occupancy tax, a 5.5 percent charge on each room rented. The city also entered into negotiations with several hotel corporations, eventually settling on erecting a Hampton Inn and Suites at the site. After Hampton decided to build a new hotel at the Aksarben Village complex in Omaha
near 60th and Pacific Streets, the city quickly moved into an agreement with Holiday Inn. Construction on the Holiday Inn Express began in November and, despite a frigid winter that set the contractor, Lincoln-based New Generation Construction, slightly behind schedule, Groesser said all indications are that the hotel should be open by August. The next step for the arena’s ancillary development, Groesser said, will be the placement of a restaurant just east of the hotel. He said a pad has been poured for a separate building which the city hopes could become an eatery. “That’s what we’re trying to sell next,” Groesser said. “It would be a perfect site for a restaurant. We’re hoping someone will want to give that a shot.”
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Construction of the Holiday Inn Express next to the Ralston Arena is expected to be complete in August. The city is also planning space for an adjacent restaurant. This view looks northeast from Q Street, the southeast corner of the arena is on the left.
“We think we’ll see more people coming to more activities and staying longer in our city.” Don Groesser, Ralston mayor
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Vision for city’s future is ambitious By Adam Klinker SUBURBAN NEWSPAPERS INC.
A re-envisioning of Ralston’s municipal front door was a major goal for the city’s 20-year plan begun in 2013. And the vision, as has become standard in a city which opened a 3,500-seat arena in October 2012, is ambitious. Ralston, with the help of JEO Consulting Group Inc. and more than a dozen local stakeholders, has plotted out something called “The Hinge” to occupy the western intersection of 72nd and Main streets. The Hinge would be a mixed-use development that would create a new feeling for the city’s eastern edge and combine with the Ralston Arena to turn more traffic into the city and become a gateway to another hoped-for
economic driver in Ralston’s central business district. “It’s really a neat concept,” Ralston Mayor Don Groesser said. “We’ve created the arena and now, if we make that connection to downtown through this thing called The Hinge, we have the beginnings of something really new and different for the city.” As designed in a JEO rendering, The Hinge would occupy the space from roughly the railroad tracks on the south to Main Street on the north, from 72nd Street on the east to 75th Street on the west. The area would comprise greenspace, a lake with a fountain, trails, about 20 buildings around a centralized parking garage and would also incorporate the Old Granary. While there’s no set timetable See Vision: Page 6
“We’ve created the arena and now, if we make that connection to downtown through this thing called The Hinge, we have the beginnings of something really new and different for the city.” Don Groesser, Ralston mayor
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Ralston FYI is published by Suburban Newspapers Inc. and the Omaha World-Herald, 1314 Douglas St., Suite 600, Omaha NE, 68102. To advertise with us, contact Marie Douglas at 402-444-1202. retail advertising manager: Dan Matuella; special project manager: Paul Swanson; special sections editor: Shelley Larsen; section editor, designer: Tom Knox; writers: Adam Klinker and Tom Knox; copy editor: Howard K. Marcus Cover images: JEO Consulting Group
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Vision: Time is right to put some of the plan into place Continued from Page 5 on the execution of the plan, Groesser said the time is right to start putting some elements of it into place. Traffic at the Ralston Arena, he noted, was more than 350,000 for the year it has been open and, already in its first two months of business, the Menards home improvement store at 72nd and L Streets has seen about 300,000 people come through its doors. “That’s more than 600,000 people on our front doorstep,” he said. “We’ve got to find a way to make them take that turn down Main Street and come visit downtown, and The Hinge is what will do that.” Tara Lea, president of the Ralston Area Chamber of Commerce, said the opportunities available in The Hinge are many. “There’s a little bit of everything in there,” Lea said. “It’s opening up an area to people who might not have thought about Ralston before. It really is a chance to capitalize on the arena and also drive some young people into the area who can park their cars and walk to a See Page 7
J EO C o n s u lt i n g G r o u p In c .
The Hinge Concept at 72nd and Main Streets, as envisioned by JEO Consulting Group, combines greenspace, a man-made lagoon, and residential and commercial space. JEO, Ralston and about a dozen area stakeholders have been partnering on Ralston’s 20-year plan for several months. North is at the top of the drawing; 72nd Street is on the right side.
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Continued from Page 6
J EO C o n s u lt i n g G r o u p, In c .
An artist’s rendering of the L Street Liner — another part of Ralston’s 20-year comprehensive plan. A row-concept of commercial buildings fronting L Street. View is looking southeast, with the intersection of 84th and L Streets at right.
restaurant or a bar or to the arena. “Those are the people who will come early, stay late and spend their money here in Ralston.” Michael Sanchez, co-owner of Maria’s Mexican Restaurant and another local stakeholder who served on the comprehensive plan committee, called the plan a gift to Ralston’s future and a way for the next generations to keep the city blossoming. “When you start planning these big, audacious goals for the city, you see what it’s going to take from councilmen and planners and the public,” he said. “It’s especially important for Ralston to talk about how it’s going to grow economically because, as everyone knows, we’re landlocked. When we sit down and talk about these audacious goals, we have to think about who is going to be around in 15 or 20 years to see these ideas implemented.” Groesser and Lea said the new urbanism being seen around the metro area, including in recent developments such as Omaha’s Aksarben Village, has been an inspiration. Downtown renewal like that happening in Omaha’s Benson neighborhood is also seen as a possibility for Ralston’s busi-
ness district. “Kind of like Benson has done, if we can get that concept into our city, we can see our downtown really start to thrive,” Groesser said. “We can cultivate the kind of businesses you see in a place like Aksarben. There’s room for us there. We have such a beautiful downtown and if we can take some of the empty lots and businesses and talk to a developer about them, they can show us a good approach to revitalization.” In addition to The Hinge concept at 72nd and Main Streets, the comprehensive plan is also exploring a new look for Ralston’s side of L Street. The design, which could be brought to realization by 2033, shows a row-concept of commercial buildings fronting the L Street access road from 84th to 77th Streets with a clocktower plaza and greenspace at the 84th and L Streets intersection. Groesser called the plan a good reference point for the future. “We’re in a good position to be doing what we’re doing in this plan,” he said. “Every decision future generations will make, they can use this plan.”
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Ralston city parks and pools All park hours are 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Between 78th Street and 78th Avenue, Seymour and Lakeview Streets
8000 Ralston Ave.
Has playground equipment, picnic table, water source and grill.
KOCH PARK 75th and Main Streets Has a picnic table, benches and a grill.
OAK PARK 77th to 79th Avenue â€” Park Lane to Lakeview Street Features shade with lots of oak trees, wood chip walking trail, picnic tables, playground equipment, drinking fountain and a water source. The restrooms are open only upon request.
Features picnic and restroom facilities, playground equipment, and hiking trails, that link to the Ralston Connector Trail. There are also horseshoe pits, a water source and sand volleyball courts.
WOODBINE PARK 87th and Monroe Streets Features grassy picnic area, basketball court, playground equipment and play structures. Each park has posted signs listing city regulations. Dogs at all city parks must be on a leash, and owners are responsible to clean up after their pets.
Area Swimming Pools KAREN POOL 6288 H St., Omaha 402-444-4259
MOCKINGBIRD HEIGHTS POOL 8989 Lakeview Drive, Omaha 402-444-4263
MOCKINGBIRD HILLS COMMUNITY CENTER AND POOL 10242 Mockingbird Drive, Omaha 402-444-6103
OAK HILL POOL 74th and Q Streets The purchase of a summer membership is required for admission to Oak Hills. For more information, call 402-593-9960.
PONDEROSA PARK 78th and Washington Streets Features picnic tables, picnic shelter, playground equipment, play structure, horseshoe pits and grills.
FAIRVIEW PARK 85th and Monroe Streets Features playground equipment and a basketball hoop.
RALSTON PARK 77th Street and Park Drive Features a playground structure, picnic shelters, picnic tables, grills, a water source and restrooms. This park adjoins four lighted ball diamonds. Traveling west on Park Drive, youâ€™ll see two softball parks, Crown Field and Joe Wager Field; and two baseball fields, Orval R. Smith Memorial Field and Pierson Field.
Above, A group of friends Oak Hill Pool. Above, left jump in at , Wildewood Park. Left, the the trail in the background, the rev gazebo and, in amped restroom facilities at Oak Park.
A commun ity dedicate to achievin d g excellenc e th ro ugh purposeful instruction and nurturing a climate of h ope.
Ralston Public Schools ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICES 8545 Park Drive Ralston, NE 68127 402-331-4700 www.ralstonschools.org Mark Adler, superintendent Brad Dahl, assistant superintendent Kristi Gibbs, assistant superintendent Dianne Young, director of student services Mary Snyder, executive assistant of certified staff Jennifer Ludes, director of technology systems Mike Rupprecht, director of human resources Judy Kyle, director of food services; 402-898-3450
RALSTON PUBLIC SCHOOLS BOARD OF EDUCATION Linda Richards, president Bob Brown, vice president Susie Haas Tiehen, secretary Dee Huff, treasurer Deb Gerch Rick Kollar The Ralston Board of Education meets at 7 p.m. the second and fourth Mondays of each month. For more information, or to request an agenda for the meeting, call 402-331-4700.
Li’l Rams Extended Day Care Program Sara Ryan, director; 402-898-3491 Krissy Thoma, assistant director
Blumfield Elementary 10310 Mockingbird Drive Omaha, NE 68127 Betsy Gomez, principal 402-331-0891
Ralston Middle School 8202 Lakeview St. Ralston, NE 68127 402-331-4701 Jason Buckingham, principal Andy Parizek, assistant principal/ activities director
Karen Western Elementary 6224 H St. Omaha, NE 68117 Shawna Mayer, principal 402-731-7477
Ralston High School 8969 Park Drive Ralston, NE 68127 402-331-7373 Steve Schrad, principal Mike Smith, assistant principal Joe Kilzer, assistant principal Tiffanie Welte, assistant principal
Meadows Elementary 9225 Berry St. Omaha, NE 68127 Lisa Schroeder, principal 402-339-6655
Mockingbird Elementary 5100 S. 93rd St. Omaha, NE 68127 Cecilia O’Donnell, principal 402-331-6954
Kindergarten to eighth grade St. Gerald Catholic School 7857 Lakeview St. Ralston, NE 68127 402-331-4223 Michala Jacobson, principal
Seymour Elementary 4900 S. 79th St. Ralston, NE 68127 Brian Ferguson, principal 402-331-0540 Wildewood Elementary 8071 Ralston Ave. Ralston, NE 68127 Heather Nebesniak, principal 402-331-6475
r b a n n e w s pa p e rs inc. Above, the Ralston Hig h Sch High School Marching Ba ool Class of 2013. Right, the Ralston Parade. Far right, Ralsto nd during last year’s Independence Day n finals of the shot put at High School’s Ryan Huff throws in the the state track meet.
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Ralston-area churches Community Bible Church The Rev. Charles Tschetter, senior pastor 9001 Q St., Omaha 402-339-7857 email@example.com www.cbcomaha.org Sunday worship: 8:30 a.m., 9:45 a.m. and 11:05 a.m.; Sunday school/adult classes: 9:30 a.m., adult Bible class/Sunday School; Wednesday, AWANA, 6:30 p.m.-8:15 p.m.
Karen Street Baptist Church David A. Peterson, pastor 6109 Karen St., Omaha 402-731-0805 firstname.lastname@example.org www.karenstreetbaptist.org Sunday services: Sunday school, 10 a.m.; worship service, 11 a.m.; evening worship, 6 p.m.
Faith Baptist Church Mark Shumaker, pastor 7595 Main St. (upper level of Hillcrest Landing) 402-502-6533 email@example.com www.faithbaptistchurchofomaha.com Sunday school, 10 a.m.; Sunday worship, 11 a.m. and 6 p.m.; Wednesday worship, 7 p.m. All Holy Spirit Greek Orthodox Church The Rev. Alexander Lukashonok 9012 Q St., Omaha 402-934-3688 firstname.lastname@example.org www.allholyspirit.com Matins service: Sunday, 8:30 a.m.; Divine liturgy: Sunday, 9:30 a.m.
Living Faith — A Church of the Nazarene The Rev. Ken Ring, pastor 6718 S. 83rd Ave. 402-592-0333 Tuesday: 10:30 a.m. and 7 p.m., Griefshare for those suffering the loss of a loved one, open to the community. Wednesday: 5:30 p.m., supper; 6:30 p.m., midweek adult Bible study, teen group; Caravan — a Scouting group for children ages 6-11. Sunday: 9:15 a.m., Sunday School for all ages; 10:30 a.m., worship Messiah Lutheran Church The Rev. Greg Berger, pastor 5015 S. 80th St. 402-331-5510 email@example.com www.messiahfamily.com Sunday: 8:30 a.m., traditional worship; 11 a.m., contemporary services; 9:45 a.m., Sunday school and adult education
Ralston United Church of Christ Lynette Janssen, pastor 7638 Maywood St. 402-331-6067 www.ralstonucc.com Sunday: 10 a.m., worship and children’s Sunday School; 11 a.m., coffee/fellowship. St. Gerald Catholic Church The Rev. Owen Korte, pastor The Rev. Patrick Harrison, associate pastor 96th and Q Streets, Omaha Lakeview Chapel, 78th and Lakeview Streets 402-331-1955 firstname.lastname@example.org www.stgerald.org Masses at church, 96th and Q Streets — Saturday, 5 p.m.; Sunday, 7:30 a.m., 9 a.m., 10:30 a.m. and noon; daily at 12:15 p.m. Masses at Lakeview Chapel, 78th and Lakeview Streets — Sunday, 7 a.m. and daily (Monday through Saturday), 8:15 a.m. Trinity United Methodist Church The Rev. Tom Buckley, pastor 8009 Q St. 402-331-4054 email@example.com www.trinityralston.org Sunday: worship services, 8:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.; during the summer 10 a.m.; Sunday school at 9:30 a.m.; nursery care, 8:30 a.m to 11:30 a.m.
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RALSTON MAYOR, CITY COUNCIL, STAFF
Mayor Don Groesser
The Ralston City Council meets on the first and third Tuesday each month at 7 p.m. in council chambers at Ralston City Hall, 5500 S. 77th St. For more information, call 402-331-6677 or www.cityofralston.com.
Jerry Krause Ward IV, City Council President
Maureen Konwinski Ward I
Lee Fideline Ward II
Craig Alberhasky Ward III
City Hall Staff Dolores Costanzo City Clerk/Treasurer Ginger Boone Deputy Treasurer Jamie Kramer Administrative Assistant Becky Schendt Code Enforcement
Important numbers and names Ralston Area Chamber of Commerce Tara Lea, president 5505 Miller Ave. 402-339-7737 Monday through Friday: 9 a.m. to noon/1 p.m. to 4 p.m. www.ralstonareachamber.org Ralston City Hall 5500 S. 77th St. Monday through Friday: 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. 402-331-6677 www.cityofralston.com Ralston Volunteer Fire Department 7629 Park Drive General inquiries: 402-331-5369 Ralston Police Department Ron Murtaugh, chief 7400 Main St. Emergency: Call 911 General inquiries: 402-331-1786 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. First Saturday of month, 8 a.m. to noon Public Works Department Dan Freshman, public works director 8220 Serum Ave. 402-331-4118 Open 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday
Utilities, cable and other services:
Ralston Baright Public Library Francine Canfield, librarian 5555 S. 77th St. 402-331-7636 Fax: 402-331-1168 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Thursday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday and Saturday 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday
Electricity O.P.P.D. Emergency services: 800-554-OPPD (6773) Customer service: 402-536-4131 Gas Black Hills Energy 24-hour utility customer service: 800-890-5554 24-hour utility emergency service: 800-6948989 Water M.U.D. Emergency service: 402-554-7777 Customer service: 402-554-6666 www.mudomaha.com Cable Cox Communications residential services 11505 West Dodge Road, Omaha 402-934-6850 www.cox.com/residential/omaha/ 24/7 support: 402-933-3000 Trash Papillion Sanitation 402-346-7800
www.ralstonlibrary.org 5555 S. 77th Street â€˘ Ralston 402-331-7636 Oppen: Mon-Thur 10-9 Fri-Sat 10-5 Sun 1-5 Open:
Ralston Senior Citizen Center 7300 Q St., Suite 100 Diane West, president 402-339-4926 .
Ralston/La Vista Special Services Bus 402-657-3550 Ralston Post Office 7300 Main St. 402-331-5749 Ralston Recorder P.O. Box 27072 Ralston, NE 68127 402-331-6300 firstname.lastname@example.org
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R A L S TO N , N E | 4 0 2 - 9 3 3 - 3 8 8 7 T H E O A K S AT L A K E V I E W . C O M