Tag Archives: Bennington Public Schools

For the Love of Pets

December 12, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

“Animals are a huge deal in this house!” exclaims Kim Hanusek of Bennington, mom to Samantha, 9, and Leigha, 6.  She’s also a second-grade teacher at Pine Creek Elementary in the Bennington Public Schools district. Kim is always eager to visit about the eight animals (yes, eight!) that complete her extended family.

“First off, we have Tucker, 3, a purebred Boxer,” shares Kim. “My family has been raising Boxers for 20 years, and my sister and I grew up showing Boxers in 4-H. I have shown Tucker locally at shows in Lincoln and Omaha, but now he’s a ‘finished champion,’ which means he’s just a coach potato.

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“Then we have Piggy, a French Bulldog who’s 4 and also a purebred. We got him from a breeder, and he actually looks like a pig.”

Kim goes on to describe her three feline friends. Callie, a domestic shorthair Calico, was adopted from the Nebraska Humane Society seven years ago (which makes her the most senior pet of the household).

Diamond, 4, is a Ragdoll, a domestic breed known for its gigantic size and limp body. “The kids like to hold him like a baby, and he’s so flexible, he folds up in half.”

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Then there’s Lily (age unknown), a domestic shorthair stray the family took in a couple years ago. “Another teacher spotted her in the snow on the playground one day, and I took her home. We didn’t intend to keep her,” Kim confesses, “but [Leigha] had been asking for a cat of her own, and we were trying to get her to stop chewing on her blanket. I told her, ‘Little girls that chew on blankets don’t have their own cats.’ It worked like a charm,” Kim recalls with a laugh.

The family also has two hamsters—gifts to the girls from their father, Brian, for Valentine’s Day last year.

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And just what does Dad think of all the animals in the house? “He grew up in a home where the dog stayed outside most of the time,” says Kim. “Then he found me and met my family…He had to become an animal lover out of necessity! Now, he travels to dog shows with us and willingly goes along with it all. Truly, he loves seeing the enjoyment the girls get out of [the animals].”

Last, there’s Coty, an 18-year-old paint horse that Kim got while in college. The family boards Coty at The Farm at Butterflat Creek in Bennington. “I did a little breakaway roping on her when she was young, but I was never successful,” Kim recalls. “She’s pretty ornery, but she’s turned out to be a great family pet. The girls and I ride her…both girls took riding lessons this summer. Samantha hopes to ride competitively one day.”

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Samantha plans to begin showing Boxers next summer in 4-H Junior Showmanship competitions as well, Kim shares proudly.

“My hopes are that both girls will show or train dogs in 4-H and more competitively in AKC-sanctioned shows when they get older,” she adds. “There’s a lot of enjoyment and pride that comes when you work hard and bond with a pet. The possibilities are endless with dog/owner activities. They might move on to dog agility, confirmation [breed judging], obedience, therapy dogs, and/or working with our breed-specific rescue group.”

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While the family pets are teaching her girls lessons about hard work and responsibility—they help clean cages, take the dogs to obedience classes, make sure all the animals are watered and fed daily, and other duties—Kim says they’re teaching them lessons in humanity as well.

“They’re learning that the animals depend on them…that all animals need love and attention, and that playtime is a requirement of pet ownership, too. They’re learning that animals feel…and they’re all unique. Samantha, especially, has taken a real interest in learning about the differences in dog breeds and their temperaments and behavior.”

The family has also done some work with a dog rescue club, which has allowed the girls to see how some pet owners treat pets as disposable. “I want them to understand that pet ownership is a commitment, and you don’t get rid of a pet because you’re bored with them or so you can get another. It’s not temporary,” adds Kim.

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Having so many pets does offer its challenges, Kim admits. The family has to budget for yearly vaccinations and heartworm pills, boarding and farrier fees, vet bills, and of course, pet food and supplies. All the expenses can add up. Taking any trip can also be a hassle. “We always have to ask, ‘Who’s going to take care of the animals?’ before we can go anywhere.”

Recently, Kim and Brian approached the girls about taking a vacation to Disneyland. The girls’ response? “They told us they wanted to go to New Orleans where they make Pitbulls & Parolees or to the Florida Everglades to see where Gator Boys is shot.” These are two Animal Planet shows the family watches together. A love of animals is ingrained in them for life, Kim says.

“A lot of what we do revolves around the animals, especially the dogs. They join us for fire-pit nights with the neighbors…they sleep in our bed…they’re there for just about everything.” And that’s just how the Hanuseks like it.

Waterford

June 20, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Beautiful landscaping, nature at your doorstep, a state-of-the-art clubhouse and fitness center overlooking the serene pool…Sounds more like a dreamy vacation destination than a permanent residence.

Waterford is a cozy neighborhood tucked away at the corner of 156th and Ida streets in northwest Omaha. “It is a quiet neighborhood with a lot of families and is a place where you really get to know your neighbors,” says Jennifer Magilton with CBSHome Real Estate. “It has that small-town sense of community.”20130602_bs_8867_Web

Resident Kim Brown attests to Waterford’s tight-knit community. “The neighborhood is friendly, quiet, and the neighbors are very supportive, caring, and gracious. We are all very close and know what each other needs. If you’re going to be gone for a week, no problem…Your neighbor will get your mail or mow your yard. And when a neighbor is going through a tough time, we all pull together and do whatever needs to be done,” says Brown.

The residents of Waterford enjoy throwing holiday parties for the kids. “Traditionally, we have a Halloween party, an Easter Egg Hunt, and Santa comes on a firetruck,” says Brown. “We have people bring cookies for the Christmas event and candy for the Halloween event. A committee gets together to plan and solicit any donations or other items that need to be purchased.”20130602_bs_8818_Web

Brown and her family have lived in Waterford for six years and do not plan on moving anytime soon. “In the area where I live [northeast], we are pretty established…there are only a few lots left. So, if you want to buy, hurry!”

The subdivision offers three housing options, all with access to the private clubhouse, 24-hour fitness center, two swimming pools, lake, and walking trails: single-family homes, estate lots, and villas/townhomes with lawn and trash services included.20130602_bs_8786_Web

“The neighborhood has a variety of architectural [home] designs, from ultra-chic modern to Colorado cabin, as well as traditional homes in a wide range of prices…lots of different styles of homes throughout because of all of the different builders,” says Magilton. Homes sell for $250,000 to $700,000.

The winding roads of Waterford are a calming retreat from the city noise and traffic. The streets are lined with neat rose bushes, shrubs, and local prairie grasses. The neighborhood has a private clubhouse equipped with a pool and 24-hour fitness center. A second pool sits on the southeast side of the subdivision.20130602_bs_8785_Web

Outdoors enthusiasts enjoy the secluded 30-acre lake stocked with fish and the biking/jogging trail. “I absolutely love the access we have to nature in terms of green space and walking trails,” says resident Maria Minderman. “You can access Standing Bear [Recreational Area] and many other trails through the trail system.”

The clubhouse is an excellent resource for residents. It’s a charming space that includes a kitchen and a large, open space plus a sitting area with couches, a television, and fireplace. Several of the Waterford community activities are hosted there.20130602_bs_8831_Web

“If you have a small party, I would guess the clubhouse would comfortably hold anywhere from 25-50 people. It would be a great place for a rehearsal dinner, graduation, or birthday party,” Brown adds. “It is a very nice treat for residents if they do not want to go into Omaha…There is something right here that they can use. Plus, you don’t have to clean your house!”

The neighborhood is unique in that it’s located in both the Omaha Public and Bennington Public School districts. Minderman’s children—who just finished kindergarten, second, and fourth grades—go to Saddlebrook Elementary in OPS, just 1.5 miles from her house. “I absolutely love Saddlebrook. The school is brand-new and has a library and a community center. I don’t think you could find a better school in Omaha,” says Minderman.20130602_bs_8823_Web

Brown’s two children attend Bennington Public Schools. “We have a lot of different school systems represented in Waterford,” says Brown. “I know families that attend St. James [Catholic], Lifegate Christian School, and Concordia [Lutheran] School of Omaha.”

Brown and her family built their two-story, traditional home and were very pleased with their building options. “We didn’t want a cookie-cutter house,” says Brown, adding she admires the other unique homes in the area. “A house was just built down the road from us that is absolutely beautiful. It has more of a Colorado feel to it. There are a couple of really unique homes that resemble a Frank Lloyd Wright style.”20130602_bs_8814_Web

Waterford offers the proximity to modern conveniences without sacrificing the natural elements. “We have geese that make their home at the lake most of the year. It is very serene to walk around the lake and see the geese, ducks, and bunnies. I saw a bald eagle the other day,” says Brown.

At the same time, the subdivision is just a couple miles from the shopping and dining at centers at 144th and 156th and Maple streets. Target, Wal-Mart, and HyVee are just a quick drive away.

And if you’re a golfer, Stone Creek Golf Course (156th & Ida) is just a stroll across the street.