Tag Archives: fire

Home Away From Home

February 24, 2017 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Volunteer firefighters at the Bennington rural fire station believe saying, “It’s quiet,” could spell the difference between a boring night and one that ends badly.

When the firefighters’ beepers buzz, there is no telling what could be on the end of the call.

“I thought a GI bleed was the worst thing I’d ever smelled, but charred human flesh was worse,” Kim Miksich says.

As a volunteer firefighter for the past year, Miksich expects the unexpected.

At first glance, it seems unlikely that this petite blonde could strap on a 70-pound pack of gear and venture into the smoky darkness of a fire. Yet, a tough determination and reliance is obvious as she recalls her first training runs. Miksich’s heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature heated up just like the flickers of flame as she stepped into the pitch black. Even though she had an experienced firefighter to guide the way, it was still pretty scary.

Miksich, a 20-year veteran of nursing at Bergan Mercy Medical Center, realized at 41 years old that she no longer had a choice. She felt compelled to follow her dream of fighting fires, even if it meant not getting paid.

“I dove in headfirst and went for it,” Miksich says.

It was a longing Miksich harbored for almost 20 years. It took her almost a year to get in good enough shape to pass the Candidate Physical Ability Test.

Miksich now volunteers at least three days of 12-hour shifts a month, staying overnight in the wide-open space of the station.

It was a huge life change. Married for 13 years, she would now have to spend nights away from her husband (who was supportive of her extra hours at the station). “He’s more worried about the dangerous aspects of the job,” she says.

Miksich, along with 44 other volunteers, covered 708 calls, 185 fires, and 523 rescues last year. All for free. Pride in service is evident all over the station, from the clean floors to the gleaming red, yellow, and blue firetrucks, to the smoke-stained coats.

The station—which opened in 2015—is immaculate. The cleanliness of the trucks and living quarters reflect this just as much as the hours the firefighters put in to save lives.

Assistant Chief Ben Tysor believes money normally spent on salaries can be spent on the facility, allowing them to better serve citizens.

It is a far cry from the former small white building down the street. It is no rinky-dink, country-bumpkin fire station. Donated by Darrell and Coe Leta Logemann, the warm brick of the building draws in visitors and volunteers. Tall, stately windows with squares outlined in bright red reflect the rustic scenery.

Opening the door, it feels a bit like a church. The stillness is a reminder of death, danger, and destruction. In the tribute room to the left, a pillar of the Twin Towers tilts to the side in a concrete frozen reminder of what could happen without courageous souls willing to risk their lives for others. The job, “a constant unknown,” matters as visitors stroll past a case filled with helmets, suits, and photos.

Fingers of sunlight reach out to an old hose cart, purchased in 1912 for $13 by the Village of Bennington (a historical reminder of those long-gone firefighters who remain part of the squad).

Chief Brent Jones continues this “family” feeling by staying in touch even with volunteers who have left.

“I spend a lot of time there. It is like a second home,” Jones says.

One of his toughest days recently included 10 calls in a 24-hour period. He hadn’t slept, so downtime in one of the black leather chairs created much-needed relaxation and peace. About eight of these same movie-style recliners are in one room facing a flat-screen television.

Firefighters can also make a meal in the vast kitchen complete with a center island. A stainless steel refrigerator and freezer filled with frozen pizzas, a slab of prime rib, or other items labeled with volunteers’ names fill the insides. Or they can help themselves to a pop from the fountain machine or fresh salted popcorn.

It’s meant to be a home away from home. Upstairs, eight bedrooms complete with bed, television, and desk give it a laid-back vibe. A full locker room comes in handy when someone comes in to use the modern weight room which overlooks the trucks (a reminder to be ready to leave at a moment’s notice—perhaps using the fireman’s pole behind a closed door).

Volunteers must meet three Mondays out of the month for emergency medical or fire training and business meetings. A big time commitment, but necessary.

“[Volunteering] is a disease. Once it is in your blood, you can’t get it out,” Jones says.

Jones, a 14-year volunteer, loves the challenge. But mainly, it is his way of serving the community. Jones spends 25 to 30 hours a week in Bennington, and about 56 hours on his regular job as a firefighter in Lincoln, where he has worked for the past 16 years. His wife also volunteers when she isn’t working as a paramedic with Midwest Medical Transport.

Although downtime seems like a minimum, pranks are still played. Jacked up trucks, water dumped on heads, and snakes in the lockers are classic.

One firefighter laughs as he plans to scratch at the door of a co-worker who believes a ghost roams the station randomly leaving the showers and sinks running.

Some of the firefighters believe they bring the spirits back after a trip. Although it is possible, the building may just be too new.

“Just don’t say the word quiet,” Jones says again. “Something will happen.”

Visit benningtonfirerescue.com for more information.

This article was printed in the March/April 2017 edition of Omaha Home.

Ode to M’s Pub

March 25, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Mirrors

Covered in lives

And streaked with assignations and carrots on buns and snails and fine wine and fruit in vodka jars as large as your darling’s eyes spying on you from that perfect angle across the room

(M. baked a cake once an amaretto cake a cake so soaked I was drunk in a bite and happy and amazed by the flavors of her life)

Back steps down to more

Mirrors

Ruts tread into the wood as deep as the Oregon trail down into an underworld worthy of Orpheus and furtive sounds and hidden rooms and back up again into the urgent fragrances of conversations just beyond understanding and

Mirrors

Reflecting you back to you

And then, yes, we know, fire and smoke and shouts and hoses and nothing nothing that could stop the offering to the January sky and the cathedral of memory takes flight and lands here and there as cinders locking away tiny atoms of the secrets and

Ice

Like all the mirrors melted and gathered on the stone

A new mirror

I still see myself there once and once again

All my old friends and my M.

MsPub

Rising from the Ashes

May 19, 2014 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

For several decades, Plattsmouth’s downtown oozed a distinctly river-rat vibe. The city’s main street, once Victorian glorious thanks to vibrant river and railroad trade, was faded, mostly abandoned, adorned with kitsch and mismatched storefronts, and, at times, just plain scary due to the cavalcade of 18-wheelers on old U.S. Highway 34.

If you haven’t been to Plattsmouth’s main street in a few years, the transformation here will likely astound. Simply put: You’ll feel like you’re somewhere else: a lively, interesting, historic retreat with good food and, on some summer evenings, good music and fun.

The transformation of this Omaha bedroom community comes thanks to an aggressive push by Plattsmouth businesses and more than $10 million in public and private dollars. Main Street was torn up as part of a major project to improve the city’s infrastructure, and then rebuilt with businesses access and pedestrians in mind. Charming Victorian street lamps were installed. Music is now piped continuously into the streets thanks to more than 60 speakers suspended along four blocks.

There is even a new outdoor plaza where, for the last two years, numerous events have been held, including a summer concert series.

Then, disaster. On a recent day, charred bricks littered the plaza. Park benches sat buckled under the weight of fallen rubble. Chain link fencing surrounded the area, protecting pedestrians from a two-story wall rendered precarious by a massive fire last winter.

20140424_bs_8831

The roofless shell of the 132-year-old Waterman Opera House, which housed three businesses, will have to be demolished.

“It’s heartbreaking, of course,” says Charles Jones, executive director of the Plattsmouth Main Street Association and a longtime businessman in town. “It’s a roadblock, to be sure. But it’s not an end by any means.”

Plattsmouth has more than 40 structures on the National Register of Historic Places still standing. The city still has the substantial 19th century architecture and ambience that goes with it. But the razing of the building has been slowed by the technicalities of legally removing a historic building, leaving the broad eyesore of the condemned site and useless plaza in the center of the still-emerging business district.

“Business is down for those around the (Opera House) site,” Jones says, pointing toward several storefronts on the street. “It does impact things. For one: I’m going to have to figure out how to keep some of the concerts going. It’s sad because you don’t want to lose any of the energy we’ve built.”
Erv Portis, the city administrator behind much of the downtown push, shares the concern about the effect of any pause of the city’s progress. But, like Jones, he believes the redevelopment is far too large to be upended by the death of one building. A plaza expansion with a permanent stage is already planned for the soon-to-be empty lot. Many of the second floors of downtown buildings are being converted to loft space.

“This was a very tired street and now . . . well, it still amazes me seeing it,” Portis says. “It’s just the beginning. The potential is all there.”

The impact of the Opera House fire doesn’t worry the owner of the newest business in town, Sisters Café. On a recent day, Sisters, which, interestingly, serves both German and Thai food, was full of customers enjoying a surprisingly upscale but affordable lunch.

“We’ve been pleasantly surprised by the number of customers, and that’s been through some weather that’s not great,” says co-owner Jit Kunkel. “We have high hopes for the future here.”
“We’re kind of at a ‘too-big-to-fail’ point here,” Jones says as he looks over the charred Opera House. “This is very sad. No doubt. But Plattsmouth will beat this.”

Earth, Air, Fire, Water

April 30, 2014 by
Illustration by Diamond Vogel

The worldview of ancient peoples often included a set of classical elements in describing the very essence of matter. Earth, Air, Fire, and Water came to symbolize the irreducible powers of the planet.

What could three creative talents do in terms of translating these primordial concepts into the most organic of color palettes?

Let’s see what happens when an award-winning theatrical set designer, a tattoo artist, Omaha Magazine’s creative director, and the color pros from Diamond Vogel use that company’s online Envision Color Visualizer tool to “paint” their inspiration.

Photo-Contest---Earth

“Brown, beige, clay. These are the colors of earth. We have gone beneath the surface to explore what lies below by choosing minerals and gemstones as our inspiration. The soft gold in the stairwell will refract light in contrast to the rich, blue-green of the walls. Entering the bedroom you find the unexpected element of a green ceiling. Remember that ceilings are your “fifth wall.” They offer a very effective, additional field of color. The complementary color on the bedroom wall is Diamond Vogel’s interpretation of Pantone’s 2014 Color of the Year—Radiant Orchid. All of these colors come together and are grounded by the richly hued earth tones of both the carpet and the light beige trim.”

Towanda Marks, Pam McCarthy,and Judy Nowak
The Diamond Vogel Team

Photo-Contest---Wind

“Air? You’ve got to be kidding! What the heck am I supposed to do with that which you can’t see? As it turns out, the answer was right under my nose all along. Glancing down at my drafting table I saw the color palette I had chosen for designing our production of Boeing-Boeing. This farcical comedy set in 1962 features a swinging bachelor who juggles a gaggle of what were then called “stewardesses.” I had selected a somewhat subdued and breezy, ‘60s-themed collection of hues (think Marimekko design mixed with a bit of early Warhol) to evoke an airy, almost weightless feel for the era when jet air travel was still new, exotic, and…well, downright sexy.” 

Jim Othuse
Scenic and Lighting Designer, Omaha Community Playhouse

Photo-Contest---Fire

“When contemplating my assigned element, my mind immediately went to thoughts of enjoying the ambiance of a cozy fire surrounded by low-light candles enveloping me in a serene, flickering glow. It instantly evokes an aura of home, warmth, and safety. As a tattoo artist, I approached the room as I would a tattoo. I chose a combination of colors that compliment each other to create a beautiful and unique canvas. With the element of fire, I thought of reds, oranges, and yellows. I used them here to create a room that feels pleasant, mellow, and comforting…much like a relaxing evening in front of the fireplace.”

Johnna McCreary
Tattoo artist and co-owner, Liquid Courage Tattoos

Photo-Contest---Water

“My aquatic inspiration came from Pantone’s 2013 color of the year—Emerald. More importantly—and a lot dearer to my heart—is the fact that this is the assortment of colors that my wife, Trisha, and I are using to prepare a nursery as we await the birth of our first child. Clean lines and cleaner palettes are found throughout our home, so I’ve reflected that theme with gray-ish surfaces that exist only to ground and add “oomph” to the brighter, more vibrant hues surrounding them. We’ll be adding coral-tinted accents in throw pillows and other soft elements to punctuate the room with some “pop.” Come late September, the nursery will be the center of activity on so many much-anticipated (but probably sleepless) nights.”

John Gawley
Creative Director, Omaha Magazine

Does your family have a fire escape plan?

February 15, 2014 by

With the winter months upon us, families nestle in their homes trying to stay warm, spending time by the fireplace and preparing comfort foods. As the temperature drops, residential house fires occurrences rise. Several factors contribute to the increase, including the use of personal heating devices, candles, and unattended cooking equipment.

Knowing how to prevent household fires, along with what to do when a fire occurs, will be beneficial to your family when every minute matters.

Start with prevention

The National Fire Prevention Association suggests your family start with the basics by:

  • Checking your household smoke detectors monthly;
  • Replacing batteries in smoke detectors annually;
  • Ensuring that your house or building number is visible from the street;
  • Memorizing the emergency phone number to the fire department;
  • Ensuring all exits are properly working and free of obstructions, specifically windows;
  • Designing a home fire escape plan.

They also recommend that families conduct a fire safety walkthrough of their home monthly to eliminate any potential fire hazards such as overloaded electrical circuits or faulty wiring.

Have a basic plan

Boys Town Pediatrics knows that developing a plan is important for those times when seconds are critical. Making a family fire escape plan can be a great opportunity to remind children about the importance of safety. Designing a fire escape plan can be easy with the following steps:

  1. Make a map of your house’s layout, showing all windows and doors.
  2. On the plan, make note of two exits out of every room, including the quickest exit outside.
  3. Pick a meeting spot outside the house where the family will gather after an emergency happens.
  4. Go over the basics in fire safety such as staying low to keep out of the smoke, never opening doors that are hot to the touch, and how to find the most immediate and safest route out.

Test the plan

The best way to ensure your plan will work is to hold a fire drill. Inform the family that there will be a fire drill within the next week. Waking your child in the middle of the night may be alarming, but we advise planning a drill in both the evening when it is dark as well as during the day.

After the mock drill, tweak your plan as needed. Remember to revisit the family fire escape plan every six months or after a child has changed rooms.

For more information on fire prevention and safety, visit the U.S. Fire Administration website at www.usfa.fema.gov.

The Real Bogeyman

December 14, 2013 by

When I was a little girl, I knew my house was going to burn down. I didn’t just fear it. I knew it. I didn’t know when. I didn’t know how. But I just…knew. And in my young mind, the only thing I could do to prevent it was to think about it. To worry about it. If I worried about it enough, it wouldn’t happen, right?

I had to wait. Just wait. I had to be ready so I could get everyone out of the house in time. At night, that meant that I positioned my bed near my door so I could lie awake and look down the hallway toward the kitchen to see the first licks of flame. During the day, it meant having a stomachache so bad that I had to stay home from school. That way, I was home and could be there to rescue my mother.

What it led to was a loss of appetite and undiagnosed stomach pains that frightened my parents and pediatrician. I was hospitalized for a week while they ran test after test, trying to figure out why I couldn’t eat and why I was constantly complaining of an upset stomach. I was finally diagnosed with a “hyperacid stomach” and handed a bottle of Mylanta®.

I felt like such a fraud. I knew why I was “sick.” I had literally made myself sick with worry. And paralyzing fear. I was 11 years old. Old enough to understand how ridiculous my fears were. Still too young to realize the power of talking to someone about it, no matter how embarrassed I was.

Finally, I found enough courage to confess to my mother, who was wonderful and kind. It was the beginning of my healing. My father later asked me how I was and assured me that, “We can replace anything in this house. That’s why we have insurance.” Which was fine, but it really wasn’t my concern. I was worried about losing my family. I had this horrible image in my mind of me opening my parents’ bedroom door and the two of them lying there as the bed burned. I couldn’t get past it. While the adults in my life really wanted to help me, they didn’t grasp the depth of my anxiety. It was real. It was constant and consuming. I almost felt I could touch it.

It was at that moment I vowed to myself—if ever a child comes to me expressing their fear of something, I will listen. I will get them to talk it all out. I will reassure them and give them tools to cope.

“Children can react to trauma in ways that adults don’t expect,” says Ryan Suhr, Statewide Administrator for Children Services at Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska. “Avoidance, anxiety, depression, and acting-out behaviors are just a few. Those behaviors have a function, and it is really up to adults to sort through that and try to understand what is happening.” Suhr goes on to say that a child’s ability to recover from trauma is directly related to the quality of their adult relationships.

What finally brought me a peaceful night’s sleep was talking things out and a spiritual quote that encouraged me to “go to sleep in peace.” It took months, but eventually I could get through a full day—then two—without thinking of my house burning.

Looking back as an adult, I know that I was picking up on subtle signals from my parents’ failing marriage. We had also helped with the recovery for one of my father’s co-workers who lost their home to fire just a few days before Christmas. And I had actually witnessed a mobile home burning a few weeks after that. I can see now how it all added up to a kind of trauma that I wasn’t able to process well.

I share this story because adults can forget how real the bogeyman can be for a child. Even a smart fifth-grader who “should know better.”

There’s much in this world that can frighten a child (or an adult, for that matter), and dismissing or discounting those fears can only make the child feel there’s something wrong with them and doesn’t help his or her recovery. Plus, there may be underlying reasons for unexplained physical ailments in children, especially when they just don’t “feel good” or they have a stomachache. Make sure to consider whether there might be something seriously troubling them and know that love, kindness, and conversation might be the best cure of all.

Create a Family Fire Escape Plan

July 22, 2013 by

Talking with your family about a fire escape plan is always a good idea, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). After all, the more prepared you are for an emergency situation, the more likely you’ll avoid devastating consequences.

Here are some tips from the NFPA for creating your plan:

  • Walk through your home and inspect all possible exits and escape routes, discussing multiple ways to get out of each room.
  • Choose an outside meeting place (e.g., a neighbor’s house, a light post, a mailbox, or a stop sign) that’s a safe distance from your home.
  • If there are infants or young children, older adults, or family members with mobility limitations, assign a family member to assist them in the event of an emergency (and a backup person, too, in case the designee isn’t home in the event of an emergency).
  • Be certain everyone understands the fire escape plan by practicing the plan twice a year, making the drill as realistic as possible.

For more information on fire escape plans and how you can better prepare your home for emergencies, visit nfpa.org or omaha-fire.org/just-for-kids

Sammy Sunshyne

June 20, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

The most surreal event of Sammy Sunshyne’s life happened last year, at the Electric Forest Festival in Rothbury, Mich.

“It was the biggest show of the festival,” recalls the Omaha acrobat, “and I got to go inside of a giant inflatable bubble and crowd surf.” The plastic ball made for a rough ride with such a big crowd (she estimates there were 50,000 people), but it was probably the most awe-inspiring thing she’s ever done. “It was only six minutes, but it was the best six minutes of my life. I ran back and hugged my friend, and she spun me around because it was the most beautiful thing.”

Just two years before in 2010, Sammy (Samantha Mixan) had attended a different music festival that introduced her to hoop dancing. “Hula hooping was where it all started for me.” Today, she’s a professional acrobatics performer with shows in Downtown Omaha clubs, at festivals and concerts all over the United States, and at international events. Though she will graduate in December with a degree in psychology from University of Nebraska-Omaha, it’s her performing career that has captured her focus.20130503_bs_3087_Web

While Sammy’s current proficiency is in hooping and fire dancing, she’s training in contortion as well. “It’s all about increasing my flexibility, mobility, arm strength,” she says. “I’m working on a contortion act with fire for this year.”

She’s debuting the act on her summer tour with Quixotic Performing Arts Ensemble, the same troupe she performed with at last year’s Electric Forest Festival. Except for a couple weeks off here and there, she’s traveling with them as a fire dancer for most of May through August.

“It’s been an amazing opportunity to work with a group on their level of performance,” Sammy says. “They’ve been so inspiring, and they’ve taught me a lot about performance. They’ve taken me to the best places I’ve performed, the biggest places. It’s a huge part of my career.”

When Quixotic contacted her to work as a performer, “it was a dream come into motion for me.” Sammy gives the credit for that connection to the tightly knit community of acrobats in the Midwest. “It’s small and interconnected and people know people. That’s how most opportunities present themselves, through people you know.”

“I’m trying to push the art aspect of performance. I want to make it into a work of art that you refine to be something impactful and beautiful as opposed to the sexy entertainment aspect.”

Attempts to train alone are things of the past since she injured herself trying for more complexity on a tour in India in 2010. “There’s a subtle strength that’s needed to control the body in those really intense poses,” she says. Sammy now travels to Kansas City frequently to train at Quixotic Performing Arts, perfecting the lessons at home in Omaha. She practices yoga, takes ballet, and is what she calls a six-day-a-week vegetarian. It also helps that she has access to a great training facility locally, thanks to her position as a tumbling instructor at Elite Cheer. When she can, Sammy trains with circus performers she knows from Montreal and San Francisco, such as Haley Rose Viloria.

In Omaha, she attends hoop jams, little get-togethers of amateur and professional performers around town, such as Circle of Fire at McFoster’s Natural Kind Cafe and a group at Elmwood Park. “We get together to show off our skills, and there’s usually a drum circle.”

Professionally, Sammy’s performed at Sokol Auditorium electronic dance music (EDM) parties. “They have their own show going on, and I’m a bit part of that.” She worked at the Mayan New Year’s Eve at House of Loom and last year’s Omaha Fashion Week after-party at the Burlington. Sometimes, you can catch her work at clubs like Red9 in Lincoln and Halo and Rehab in Omaha. She’s also performed at the Bourbon Theater in Lincoln, both with Quixotic and her fire-dancing partner, Ken Hill.Maybe-_Web

“She’s amazing,” Hill says emphatically. “I’ve seen her since the beginning up to this point, and it’s been awesome to see.”

She makes all her own hoops (out of polypropylene) except for her fire props, which are custom-made. Sammy dips the fire-resistant Kevlar spokes into a white gas fuel before performing. “You shake off the excess fuel, and then you light them,” Sammy explains. “It burns the gas, not the Kevlar. So when the gas runs out, your fire prop goes out.”

Little scars run up her hands and arms from fire spinning. “I don’t get burned every time, but it’s just something that comes with it. Obviously the more proficient you are, the less likely you are to get burned.” Sammy uses safety precautions such as putting up her hair, wearing lip balm when she’s fire eating, and perhaps squirting a water bottle on her hair and clothes. And when she gets burned during a performance, she doesn’t give it away. “Sometimes, you don’t even notice them until later.”

Sammy estimates she performs about twice a month in the off-summer months. “The community’s really growing,” she says. “It’s slowly getting bigger. More people are getting interested in it.” She feels two urges: to experience the performance scene in cities like Oakland, Seattle, Portland, and New York City, but also to bring that scene to the Midwest. “Event planners are only now realizing performers could add so much to their shows, so they’re just now starting to hire them. They add so much atmosphere.”20130503_bs_3073_Web

Sammy’s signature performance style is breezy and fun. Constantly smiling, she never makes poses look taxing or difficult; hence her stage name given to her by a friend. “There’s no possible way I could do this without a support system helping me,” she says. “I wouldn’t have these opportunities if I didn’t have the connections. You have to go out there and meet people who can make your dreams happen.”

While pursuing her dream on tour this summer, Sammy’s put a lot of thought into instilling her performances with a message. “I’m trying to push the art aspect of performance,” she says. “I want to make it into a work of art that you refine to be something impactful and beautiful as opposed to the sexy entertainment aspect.”

For her summer tour, she’s created a backstory for her fire-spinning piece. “So I’m a lost girl looking out over the audience, with my one light,” Sammy explains, “and she’s looking and searching, not knowing where she is. Then she becomes possessed by this inner being, this other side explodes through her personality. She’s confident and doing things that don’t seem possible for humans to do.”

Nature-Inspired Office Space

February 25, 2013 by
Photography by Tom Kressler

The four elements—earth, fire, wind, and water—connote strength, simplicity, and timelessness andwere the source of inspiration for the design of the Pinnacle Bank Headquarters at 180th & Dodge streets in Omaha.

Pinnacle Bank, a Nebraska-based institution now in eight states, worked closely with the team at Avant Architecture to make the building essentially a piece of modern art. Rising from the horizon, the stone, steel, and glass structure suggests strength and elegance, simplicity and beauty.

“We’re really all about Nebraska and the Nebraska way,” says Chris Wendlandt, Senior Vice President of Marketing/Retail. Having previously worked with Avant, Wendlandt says the architecture firm knew their philosophy well. “Avant worked to match the building with the brand, and I think they did a great job.”

Wendlandt says that the goal was to create a space that would be simple, warm, and inviting, and something that both employees and their customers would be proud of.

Atrium.psd

Since their grand opening in June 2011, the response of employees and clients has been overwhelmingly positive.

The overall design of the building is sleek, yet elegant. “The emphasis is on light, openness, and views [of the exterior landscape],” says Wendlandt. Italian tile runs throughout the approximately 82,000-square-foot building. Other materials carried throughout the building’s design are the dark, German wood veneer, Oberflex, used in cabinets and doors, as well as a Gage Cast bronze metal that can be found near the teller line, in the elevator, and in other parts of the building.

Glass plays a prominent role in the overall design as well. Running through the lobby is a green-tinted channel glass wall, hinting at the element of water and providing light, as well as privacy, to first-floor offices and conference rooms. Large glass-panel walls on both exterior and interior walls keep with the open and airy feeling.

“The consistency throughout the whole building gives it that warm feeling, but then the artwork really brings [to life] what our brand is,” says Wendlandt. While the design of the space is minimalist, the artwork is what captures the attention of the viewer.

Board Room.psd

Aided by Holly Hackwith of Corporate Art Co., the art in the building was commissioned especially for the Pinnacle Bank project. With the majority of the artists being from Nebraska and the surrounding area, their work conveys the feel of Pinnacle’s home state. “We went through and identified artists we thought worked for the building,” says Wendlandt. Some of the more prominently featured artists are Jorn Olsen, Helene Quigley, and Matt Jones.

Then, in what Hackwith calls an extraordinary gesture, the Pinnacle executives allowed their employees to select which pieces would go into their personal offices. The result is an art collection that is a healthy mix of traditional and modern, serene and vibrant.

“Their employees really felt like they were a part of the process,” says Hackwith. Each work of art includes a plaque detailing the name of the piece, the name of the artist, and a brief description of the piece and artistic process involved.

The executive offices on the upper floors have glass-panel walls that look into the hallways and common areas. Employee cubicles have lower walls with glass panes imbedded, giving nearly every employee access to natural light and breathtaking views.

Roof Deck.psd

A community meeting room was created so that many of Pinnacle’s nonprofit clients can reserve it for their own use. “Community is…very important to us,” says Wendlandt. She says that they made a conscious effort to include a conference room with community access to it. All conference rooms are equipped with the latest in audio-visual technology

The top floor houses a green roof as well as a meeting area surrounded by glass-paneled walls that can slide open and be used to entertain clients or hold business meetings.

The building has achieved its sought-after LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Certification. To earn this distinction, the building must meet green building standards regarding energy performance, water efficiency and several other aspects. In September 2012, the Pinnacle Bank project was also honored for its superior design with a silver award in the Corporate-Healthcare category by the Nebraska-Iowa Chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID).

President Sid Dinsdale and the executives at Pinnacle Bank have created a new work space that reflects their values as a company. In doing so, they have also built a monument to where they came from and the clients they serve.