New Playground to be Installed at Chalco Hills in Memory of Dominik Walters

Four-year-old enjoyed the park with his family every Sunday afternoon

 

Dominik Walters

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 Walters Family. Left to right – Nora, Tiffany, and Ryan

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.

 

Dom’s Park Rendering

 

New Faces Elected to Papio NRD Board

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.

 

 

 

Helicopter to Make Low-Level Flights Starting August 1st

Flights to Collect Data About Groundwater Aquifers

Data-collecting helicopter equipment

Eastern Nebraska residents should not be alarmed if they see a low-flying helicopter over areas of the Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District in August.

Beginning August 1st and lasting approximately three weeks, instruments mounted below a helicopter will collect and record geologic measurements to learn more about groundwater aquifers in Dakota, Thurston, Burt, Washington, Douglas, Dodge and Sarpy Counties. The Papio NRD, as part of the Eastern Nebraska Water Resources Assessment, have planned the flights and are completing them with financial assistance from the Nebraska Water Sustainability Fund, through the Nebraska Natural Resources Commission. A flight schedule for each area is forthcoming.

 

 

 

 

 

 

“The flights will improve our understanding of available groundwater and its possible connections with surface water in an area of the state made more complex by the presence of glacial deposits,” said Paul Woodward, Groundwater Management Engineer for the Papio NRD.

Aqua Geo Frameworks (AGF), of Mitchell, Nebraska will oversee the flights, process data and produce a final report. The equipment can collect data at a speed of more than 50 miles per hour and explore to a depth of more than 700 feet below the ground surface. Scientific equipment, that looks like a hexagon, is towed about 100 feet below the helicopter in a ‘spider web’ array and is designed to map geologic structures beneath the surface of the earth. The helicopter will be manned by experienced pilots specially trained for low-level flying with this equipment.

The flights are a continuation of previous data collected during 2016 and 2018 and will provide a geologic understanding of all remaining areas in the Papio NRD.  Similar flights have been made across Nebraska since 2007 as NRDs seek to better understand and manage groundwater resources.

 

 

 

 

New Flood Mitigation Reservoir to be Named in Honor of Chief Big Elk of Omaha Tribe

Big Elk Lake

The Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District Board of Directors today voted unanimously to name Papillion’s new flood mitigation reservoir Big Elk Lake in honor of Chief Big Elk, a principal leader of the Omaha tribe.

Chief Big Elk was a leader of the Omaha tribe on the upper Missouri River where we live now,” said Papio NRD Director Kevyn Sopinski, who represents Subdistrict 10. “Big Elk played an important role in Sarpy County history and naming this flood mitigation reservoir after him is a meaningful way to not only commemorate the historical imprint Big Elk left, but keep it alive by educating others on this great leader’s life, death, and all he accomplished in between,” said Sopinski.

The Papio NRD Board of Directors agreed with Sopinski’s name proposal and today voted during its June board meeting to name the new Papillion reservoir (previously referred to as WP7), located near 108th and Lincoln Rd., Big Elk Lake.

Dr. Rudi Mitchell, the great-great-great grandson of Chief Big Elk, said he was very pleased when he heard the Papio NRD Board planned to recognize his ancestor.

“There is currently no tribute to Chief Big Elk in Omaha, said Mitchell. “Big Elk was admired for leading one of the most peaceful tribes through many challenges. Through his speeches, trading, and peace treaties, Big Elk had a gift for peacefully bringing settlers and the Omaha tribe together,” said Mitchell. “This says a lot about the kind of leader he was and I’m grateful he will be remembered in an area of beauty and nature.”

While the new reservoir’s primary purpose is to help protect the lives and property of citizens from floods, it will also feature recreational amenities, such as a 40-acre park, 12½-acre lake, walking/cycling trails, kayak/canoe launches, picnic shelter, and fishery enhancements.

The project is estimated to open in late spring/summer of 2021.

 

 

Public Input Welcome on Proposed Name of New Reservoir

The public is invited to provide input on the proposed name of Big Elk Lake for a new flood mitigation reservoir (currently referred to as WP-7) at the Papio NRD Board of Directors meeting on June 11 at 4:00 p.m. Any input is accepted until formal action is taken by the Board at the June meeting.

The new reservoir is located in Papillion near 108th and Lincoln Rd. It will will feature a 12½ acre lake and recreational amenities, such as trails, kayak/canoe launches, picnic shelters, and fishery enhancements. The project is estimated to be completed September 2020.

 

Douglas/Sarpy County Recreation Areas: What’s Open? What’s Not?

 

Updated June 3, 2020

In coordination and cooperation with Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and local partner agencies, the Papio NRD will open tent and RV camping at Elkhorn Crossing on Saturday, June 6th.  All social distancing and Directed Health Measures must be adhered to by all park users. If an inordinate amount of violations occur, the Papio NRD will reevaluate the situation and reimpose restrictions as necessary.   

Updated May 28, 2020

In consultation with the City of Omaha and other partner agencies, the Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District will open playgrounds, picnic areas, and restrooms at Papio NRD operated and maintained recreation areas on June 1st. The Douglas and Sarpy county parks include Chalco Hills Recreation Area, Prairie View Recreation Area, and river access sites.

The status of Papio NRD recreation areas are as follows:

Douglas County

All River Access Sites along the Elkhorn & Platte Rivers 

Hours – 6:00 am to 10:00 pm

OPEN:

  • Playground equipment
  • Picnic areas
  • Restrooms
  • Parking lots
  • Campsites at Elkhorn Crossing (tent and RV camping)

The recommended social distancing of six feet is still required between park users.  

 

Prairie View Recreation Area

Hours – 6:00 am to 10:00 pm

OPEN:

  • Trails
  • Prairie View Lake
  • Boat ramps
  • Parking lots
  • Playground equipment
  • Picnic areas
  • Restrooms

The recommended social distancing of six feet is still required between park users.  


Sarpy County

Since Chalco Hills Recreation Area is located in Sarpy County, the Papio NRD coordinates with all of its partners in Sarpy County to ensure it is following the same guidelines in order to protect public health while simultaneously providing its constituents a safe recreational outlet.

Chalco Hills Recreation Area

Hours – 6:00 am to 10:00 pm

OPEN:

  • Trails
  • Wehrspann Lake
  • Boat ramps
  • Parking lots
  • Playground equipment
  • Picnic areas
  • Restrooms

The recommended social distancing of six feet is still required between park users.  

The Papio NRD will update any changes to the status of these recreation areas here on its website.

 

 

How to Attend Papio NRD Virtual Board Meetings

The Papio NRD Subcommittee and Board of Directors meetings will be held virtually via Zoom. To join the meetings, simply click the links below.

Subcommittee meeting – Tuesday, April 7 at 4:00 p.m.

  • To virtually attend the Subcommittee meeting,  please click here.

Board of Directors meeting – Thursday, April 9 at 4:00 p.m.

  • To virtually attend the Board of Directors meeting, please click here.  We hope to see you there!

CANCELED: Open House – Papillion Creek Watershed Supplemental Plan – EA

PUBLIC INFORMATION OPEN HOUSE  – CANCELED

Papillion Creek Watershed Supplemental Plan – Environmental Assessment

Due to the uncertainty involved with the COVID-19 virus and public health developments, the Papio NRD and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) are going to cancel the scheduled open house. However, your feedback is important to us.

Beginning on March 23, the planned presentation will be available on our project website: https://trello.com/b/I2bEEIiB/papillion-creek-watershed-supplemental-plan-ea 

Site locations and preliminary designs have been developed for the seven sites proposed in Douglas, Sarpy and Washington Counties and information on each site will be detailed in the presentation.  The projects are intended to develop solutions for watershed issues such as erosion, floodwater and sediment damage, water quality and habitat improvements, and others.

The project team including the P-MRNRD, NRCS, FYRA Engineering, and Olsson Associates will do our best to accommodate requests for information and are willing to send information by mail, email, etc.  Please reach out with any comments or questions to Amanda Grint, Project Manager.  You may reach me by email at agrint@papionrd.org or phone at 402-315-1722.  You may also send comments to my attention at Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District, 8901 South 154th Street, Omaha, NE 68138.  Please provide comments by April 6th.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Union Dike Flood Rehabilitation Timeline

To help keep residents who live near Union Dike informed of the status of the levee’s rehabilitation, the Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District is providing a project timeline.

Union Dike is located on the east bank of the Platte River between Valley and Fremont, Nebraska. The US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and the Papio NRD are working together to repair 2019 flood-damaged areas caused by overtopping of the dike and high water along both sides of the dike.

The USACE is handling the following tasks:

  • Prepare project repair plans
  • Hire a contractor to complete the dike repairs
  • Administer/inspect the repair work

The Papio NRD will provide soil for the repairs and reimburse the USACE 20% of the construction costs.

The tentative Union Dike project timeline is as follows:

  1. USACE advertise project for bids – March 12, 2020
  2. USACE open bids – March 26, 2020
  3. USACE give contractor Notice to Proceed – April 30, 2020
  4. Completion Date (120 days from Notice to Proceed) – August 28, 2020

It should be noted, the project schedule is contingent on receiving acceptable bids and suitable construction weather.

 

 

 

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