Two recently elected members of the Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District (Papio NRD) Board of Directors were sworn in at last night’s board meeting.
Patrick Bonnett, who previously served on the Papio NRD Board from 2012-2016, replaces Mark Gruenewald in Subdistrict 9, who joined the board in 2017. Phil Davidson, City of Bellevue Community Relations Coordinator, defeated incumbent John Wiese in Subdistrict 11, who served since 2016.
Incumbent Larry Bradley, a former board member who rejoined the Papio NRD Board in 2017, retains his seat in Subdistrict 3 after defeating challenger Christian Mirch. Incumbents Ted Japp (Subdistrict 1), Rich Tesar (Subdistrict 5), and Danny Begley (Subdistrict 7) ran unopposed.
Additional members of the Papio NRD Board of Directors include Fred Conley (Subdistrict 2), Tim McCormick (Subdistrict 4), Jim Thompson (Subdistrict 6), Tim Fowler (Subdistrict 8), Kevyn Sopinski (Subdistrict 10).
Papio NRD championed new legislation following historic flood of 2019
Omaha, NE: Included in the large omnibus spending and authorizing package signed by President Trump Sunday night is Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District (Papio NRD) written and sponsored legislation allowing local sponsors throughout the nation to conduct emergency infrastructure repairs and receive reimbursement from the federal government.
Previously, the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) was required to make flood mitigation infrastructure repairs, but if a local sponsor, such as the Papio NRD, conducted the work, then that sponsor was not eligible to have the project costs reimbursed.
The original process was costly on a variety of fronts, as following the flood of 2019, many levee systems went unrepaired for months, leaving people and infrastructure exposed to more flooding danger. The new legislation, championed by the Papio NRD, expedites emergency repairs and simultaneous federal funding on a national scale through authorizing language in the 2020 Water Resources Development Act (WRDA).
“This legislation impacts far more than just our District,” said John Winkler, general manager of the Papio NRD. “Now, local sponsors across the country can start to repair vital flood mitigation infrastructure immediately following an emergency instead of waiting for federal action or funding. Typically, sponsors can do the work in one-third the time and cost than the federal government. We cannot thank our congressional delegation enough for its hard work and support,” said Winkler.
Winkler says additional good news to come out of the omnibus spending package is Congress’s first ever funding to the USACE Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loan program for water infrastructure projects.
The Papio NRD strongly advocated for this funding inclusion in both the House and Senate and worked closely with Nebraska’s congressional delegation, as well as governors from multiple states to enlist their support. Congress voted to provide $12 million for the program, which will enable USACE to begin issuance of ultra-low interest loans with very favorable terms to entities like the Papio NRD to more efficiently construct vital flood mitigation infrastructure.
Four-year-old enjoyed the park with his family every Sunday afternoon
The Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District (Papio NRD) Board of Directors voted to approve cost share for the purchase and installation of a new playground facility at Chalco Hills Recreation Area in memory of Dominik Walters.
In August 2018, while visiting the family cabin in Minnesota, four-year-old Dominik (Dom) died after suffering an unexpected and massive cardiac arrest while doing cannonballs off the dock with his father, Ryan.
The Walters family – Ryan, Tiffany, Dom, and Nora (or Boon, as Dom would call her) – would visit Chalco Hills Recreation Area every Sunday to play on the playground equipment and explore the park.
To carry on the memory of their son, a few short months after Dom’s death, the Walters approached the Papio NRD about the possibility of donating funds for the construction of a new playground (Dom’s Park) at Chalco Hills. The family felt Dom’s Park would be the perfect way to honor Dom’s legacy and provide a new facility that children throughout the community could enjoy.
“It has been a tremendous honor to work with Ryan, Tiffany, and Boon and to be a partner on this special cost share project,” said Papio NRD General Manager John Winkler. “The Walters have turned unimaginable tragedy into a positive. Countless children are going to be able to enjoy this new playground and Chalco Hills, as Dom and his family did. Dom’s Park is an incredible tribute to Dom and gift to the Omaha community that will last for years to come,” said Winkler.
The cost of the Dom’s Park playground equipment and installation totaled $279,071. Through generous donations to the Dominik Walters Memorial Fund, including a matching grant of $76,464 from the playground equipment company, BCI Burke Company, the Walters family donated $105,000 to the Papio NRD.
“The Papio NRD had budgeted $125,000 for the purchase and installation of the equipment, but the Walters family surpassed its fundraising goal, leaving $97,607 total cost for the Papio NRD,” said Winkler. “Without hesitation, the board of directors unanimously voted to approve the donation and the naming of Dom’s Park. It will proudly replace current playground equipment that is over 30 years old,” said Winkler.
“At the time we tragically lost Dominik, we never imagined that we would cement his legacy with a new playground,” said Ryan and Tiffany Walters. “We are forever indebted to every individual who empathized with his story and contributed to our effort, and we are truly blessed to have this public-private partnership with the Papio NRD to make Dom’s Park a reality. We have so much joy in our hearts knowing that thousands of children will enjoy Dom’s Park at the very location Dominik absolutely loved,” said the Walters.
Construction of Dom’s Park will take place this spring and will be located in the northwest corner of Chalco Hills Recreation Area near Picnic Area A.
The Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District Board of Directors will see some new faces following the 2020 General Election.
Patrick Bonnett, who previously served on the Papio NRD Board from 2012-2016, replaces Mark Gruenewald in Subdistrict 9, who joined the board in 2017.
Phil Davidson, City of Bellevue Community Relations Coordinator, defeated incumbent John Wiese in Subdistrict 11, who served since 2016.
Incumbent Larry Bradley, a former board member who rejoined the Papio NRD Board in 2017, retains his seat in Subdistrict 3 after defeating challenger Christian Mirch.
Incumbents Ted Japp (Subdistrict 1), Rich Tesar (Subdistrict 5), and Danny Begley (Subdistrict 7) ran unopposed.
Additional members of the Papio NRD Board of Directors include Fred Conley (Subdistrict 2), Tim McCormick (Subdistrict 4), Jim Thompson (Subdistrict 6), Tim Fowler (Subdistrict 8), Kevyn Sopinski (Subdistrict 10)
The Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District Board of Directors is an 11-member board that sets policy for Papio NRD programs and projects and oversees a $75 million annual operating budget.
The Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District will close all access sites to the Elkhorn River for the season on November 1st. The access sites include Elkhorn Crossing, West Maple Road, and Graske Crossing.
The Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District is seeking feedback from Washington County farm owner-operators on a new incentives program for farmstead improvements and agricultural enhancements.
The program is intended be a flagship example of conservation-based water quality improvement for the state of Nebraska by reversing watershed impairment in the Papillion Creek Watershed through the reduction of nutrient, sediment, and E. coli loading.
“The best way to make this incentives program truly beneficial to farmers is to collaborate directly with them,” said Kyle Madsen, watershed coordinator for the Papio NRD. “We want their help in devising incentives they find attractive to implement water quality improvement practices throughout the watershed.”
Madsen says the next few months will be devoted to gathering public feedback necessary to develop a comprehensive and successful program.
Special incentives are available to stakeholders in various parts of Washington County for the following practices/improvements:
Septic system upgrades/replacements
General Conservation Reserve Program
Riparian buffer/filter strips
Sediment control basins
Wet detention basins
Livestock exclusion areas
Grant funding for the program is provided by the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy. The program will be available through December 2022.
For questions and information on eligibility, please contact Madsen at (402) 350-3695 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Papio-Missouri River NRD Board Approves Proposed 2021 Budget
At its September 10th meeting, the Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District Board of Directors voted to approve the Fiscal Year 2021 general operating budget that includes a decrease in the Papio NRD property tax levy.
“It is our civic duty to save taxpayer dollars and we are proud the District’s property tax levy will decrease again this year,” said John Winkler, general manager of the Papio NRD. “For 15 out of 16 years, the District has either decreased or kept the tax levy the same,” said Winkler.
The FY21 budget calls for a property tax levy of .036490 per $100 of assessed valuation, which means a homeowner with property valued at $100,000 would pay a total of $36.49 or 3.04 cents a month in property taxes next year to support Papio NRD projects. The budget calls for an estimated $27 million in revenue from the NRD’s property tax levy. The total operating budget is estimated at $75.5 million.
The Papio-Missouri River NRD’s property tax levy amounts to less than two percent of a homeowner’s total property tax bill who lives within the District’s six-county area. The levy is based on an estimated 7.06% increase in valuations across the district, which includes all of Sarpy, Douglas, Washington and Dakota counties, plus the eastern 60% of Burt and Thurston counties.