Papio NRD and Nebraska Dignitaries Celebrate Start of Upgrades to Offutt Air Force Base Levees

Historic flood hit weeks before levee project was to begin,
causing catastrophic damage
to the base and surrounding area

 The Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District, Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts, Nebraska Congressional Delegation, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Offutt Air Force Base, and other dignitaries today celebrated the start of repairs and upgrades to two levees at Offutt Air Force Base following the historic flood of 2019.

The March flood severely damaged the Missouri River Levee System that protects Offutt Air Force Base, resulting in nearly $1 billion in damage to the base. The nearby Papillion Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant and levee system sustained more than $45 million in damage. The flooding occurred just weeks before the Papio NRD was to begin federally mandated upgrades to the levees.

From L-R. Rita Sanders, District Representative for Congressman Jeff Fortenberry; Congressman Don Bacon; Governor Pete Ricketts; John Winkler, Papio NRD General Manager; Colonel John Hudson, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; Bellevue Mayor Rusty Hike; Jim Thompson, Papio NRD Chairperson; and Colonel Alan Dayton, Offutt Air Force Base Mission Support Group Commander

“While timing of the flooding was certainly unfortunate, today we have great reason to celebrate,”  said John Winkler, general manager of the Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District. “Like anything worthwhile, it wasn’t easy and the weather didn’t help. However, the historic floods of 2011 and 2019 only slowed us down. They never deterred us from the mission,” said Winkler.

During the week of September 9th, the Papio NRD, in cooperation and coordination with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, started the levee construction – raising and widening levees R-613 and R-616 – to provide increased flood risk protection to the area of tremendous infrastructure.

“That’s what this project represents, that spirit of Nebraska,” said Governor Pete Ricketts. “Not allowing ourselves to be defeated by Mother Nature, but willing to work together to build bigger and better than before. To rebuild this levee. To protect Offutt Air Force Base so they can continue their mission of protecting us,” said Ricketts.

Congressman Don Bacon said the levee project is an important milestone because without the levee system upgrades, the Unites States Air Force was not willing to replace the flooded Offutt Air Force Base runway.

“This levee is important for that runway, which costs $170 million to totally redo,” said Congressman Bacon. “Without the commitment to raise this levee, we would not get the replacement of $300 million to replace the buildings that were destroyed,” said Bacon.

“We are in the process of finishing the first contract, which was to restore levee R-616 and R-613 to its pre-flood condition,” said Colonel John Hudson of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.” That contractor’s efforts will be wrapping up here in the next week. That sets the condition for the Papio NRD’s contract to start work to raise the levee that additional two to three feet,” said Colonel Hudson.

The $35 million Missouri River Levee System project is estimated to be completed by 2021.

Additional speakers at the groundbreaking ceremony included District Representative Rita Sanders on behalf of Congressman Jeff Fortenberry, Bellevue Mayor Rusty Hike, Offutt Air Force Base Mission Support Group Commander Colonel Alan Dayton, and Papio NRD Chairperson Jim Thompson.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Board Members Sworn in at Papio NRD

Left to right: Tim McCormick, Chairperson Jim Thompson, and Kevyn Sopinski

Two recently-elected members of the Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District Board of Directors were sworn in at last night’s board meeting.

Tim McCormick, owner of a bridge and heavy civil construction company, now officially represents Subdistrict 4 following the retirement of long-time board member John Conley.

Kevyn Sopinski, a financial adviser, serves Subdistrict 10. Sopinski replaces David Klug who chose not to run for re-election to focus on election to the Sarpy County Board of Commissioners.

Another new face will join the Papio NRD Board of Directors in February, as the board announced the resignation of Director Patrick Leahy of Subdistrict 7 due to Leahy’s move to a residence located outside of Subdistrict 7.  Those interested in applying to fill the remainder of Leahy’s term can find more information here.

McCormick and Sopinski join current members of the Papio NRD Board of Directors: Ted Japp (Subdistrict 1), Fred Conley (Subdistrict 2), Larry Bradley (Subdistrict 3), Richard Tesar (Subdistrict 5), Jim Thompson (Subdistrict 6), Mark Gruenwald (Subdistrict 9), and John B. Wiese (Subdistrict 11).

New Faces on Papio NRD Board of Directors

 

 

The Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District Board of Directors will see some new faces this year following the 2018 General Election.

Tim McCormick, owner of a bridge and heavy civil construction company, takes over John Conley’s seat in Subdistrict 4. Conley retired after serving 19 years on the board.

Kevyn Sopinski, a financial adviser, replaces David Klug in Subdistrict 10, who chose not to run for re-election to focus on election to the Sarpy County Board of Commissioners.

Longtime incumbent Tim Fowler, who has represented Subdistrict 8 since 2003, will hold onto his seat after defeating challenger Jim Kusek.

Incumbents Jim Thompson in Subdistrict 6 and Fred Conley in Subdistrict 2 ran unopposed.

Additional members of the Papio NRD Board of Directors include Ted Japp (Subdistrict 1), Larry Bradley (Subdistrict 3), Richard Tesar (Subdistrict 5), Patrick Leahy (Subdistrict 7), Mark Gruenwald (Subdistrict 8), and John B. Wiese (Subdistrict 11).

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 $72 million annual operating budget.

West Papio Trail Expansion Ready for Cycling Action

New three-mile bike trail connects west Omaha to Bellevue area –
a milestone 25 years in the making

On October 2, 2018, the Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District and the Cities of Omaha and La Vista celebrated the grand opening of a new three-mile stretch of the West Papio Trail in Millard that links west Omaha to the Bellevue area. The new segment creates a 130-mile network through Douglas and Sarpy Counties that’s been more than 25 years in the making.

The West Papio Trail addition connects the existing trail at 108th & Giles Road to the new Lumberyard District at 132nd & Q Street. While technically small in size, the connection provides tremendous recreational opportunities with historical significance by connecting Millard and west Omaha to La Vista, Papillion, and Bellevue – stretching down to the Missouri River by a continuous dedicated trail corridor.

“This regionally significant and boundary-breaking project provides expanded recreation, active transportation for Omaha metro residents, and increased access to natural resources,” said Eric Williams, Papio NRD Natural Resources Planner. “The Papio-Missouri Natural Resources District was fortunate to partner with the Cities of La Vista and Omaha in the design and construction of this milestone project,” said Williams.

“Through the partnership of the Papio-Missouri River Natural Resource District and the City of La Vista, we are all very excited to announce the completion of the West Papio Trail extension that links West Omaha and Bellevue,” said Brook Bench, City of Omaha Parks and Recreation Director. “This trail segment will allow for more recreation in the community and will serve as an active avenue for transportation for Omaha metro residents.”

“Today we celebrate the extension of the West Papio Trail which connects with La Vista,” said La Vista Mayor Douglas Kindig. “Projects such as this one are not possible without partners and cooperation between different entities. The completion of this project will improve the quality of life and provide a valuable amenity to our citizens,” said Kindig.

The trail expansion follows the original stretch of the former Union Pacific transcontinental railroad. The Papio NRD was able to restore all of the old bridges that will now be used as trail bridges. National “rails to trails” efforts are focused on reusing abandoned railroad property for multi-use paths, allowing long, flat corridors to become community focus points and preserving the history of railroad infrastructure.

As the most well-known railroad in America, this new section of trail highlights the natural geographic features, incorporates transportation and commerce history, and connects communities just as the railroad did nearly 150 years ago.

The West Papio Trail expansion project cost $3.2 million, with the Cities of Omaha and La Vista each contributing 20 percent of the cost.

 

 

Papio NRD Board of Directors Elects Officers

Media Contact:
Jennifer Stauss Story
402-315-1708
jstaussstory@papionrd.org

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 27, 2018

Omaha, NE – At its July 12, 2018 meeting, the Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District Board of Directors elected officers to serve the District for the coming year (July 2018 – July 2019).

Jim Thompson in Subdistrict 1 has been elected to serve a one-year term as NRD Board Chairperson. Thompson replaces David Klug, who chose not to run for re-election as he focuses on election to the Sarpy County Board of Commissioners.

Fred Conley in Subdistrict 2 was re-elected Vice Chairperson.

Re-elected Treasurer is John Conley in Subdistrict 4. Conley will serve as Treasurer until his term ends in December. The Board of Directors will hold elections for Conley’s successor shortly thereafter. Tim Fowler in Subdistrict 8 was elected to serve as Assistant Treasurer.

Richard Tesar in Subdistrict 5 was re-elected as both Secretary and Nebraska Association of Resources District’s (NARD) Director. Fowler was elected NARD’s Alternate Director.

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 $67 million annual budget.

About the Papio NRD

The Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District is one of 23 Natural Resources Districts (NRDs) in Nebraska. NRDs are multi-county governments organized along major watersheds with broad responsibilities to protect and enhance our state’s natural resources. The Papio NRD includes all of Sarpy, Douglas, Washington, and Dakota counties, plus the eastern 60% of Burt and Thurston counties. Learn more about the Papio NRD at www.papionrd.org.

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