Tag Archives: Central High School

A Rich History is Leading to a Rich Future

September 26, 2019 by
Photography by Contributed

This year is the 50th anniversary of KIOS-FM, and development director Michael Lyon has a lot to be excited about. “It is a triumph in itself that we’ve been here for 50 years,” he says, “but also that we’re in a position to keep going another 50, better than ever.”

Lyon joined KIOS in 2006 as a local anchor of “Morning Edition,” and took over as development director in 2017. To him and the other radio employees, the anniversary is a moment of celebration and rebirth for the station: KIOS held a celebratory open house in September bringing in guest speaker Susan Stamberg—the first woman to anchor the nightly news nationwide—and the station is also adopting new branding, material, and avenues for broadcast.

KIOS would not be possible without support, and that support started with the government. Public radio fell under the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967, in which Congress declared “It is in the public interest to encourage the growth and development of public radio and television broadcasting, including the use of such media for instructional, educational, and cultural purposes.”

Following this act, public radio stations opened across the nation, including KIOS, thanks to two founding fathers—Craig Fullerton, Ed.D., then-assistant superintendent at Omaha Public Schools; and broadcaster Jim Price. “Jim Price was a journeyman broadcaster, a traveler, and a live musician,” explains program director Todd Hatton. “This is why you could tune in and hear either Dmitri Shostakovich or Grand Funk Railroad, depending on the time of day.” Together the founders envisioned a station devoted to educational broadcasting for students and the public welfare of Omaha—a mission born out of a shared love for education and the medium of radio itself, Hatton says. The station came to life at 10 a.m. on Sept. 15, 1969, from the basement of Central High. Its first message for the city was a humble, anti-smoking PSA.

Joining together, 90 public radio stations, including KIOS, were the founding, charter members of NPR, first incorporated in 1970. As a charter member, KIOS enjoys some historical distinction and notoriety, but operates no differently from other stations in the NPR tent. “It wasn’t that we were picked,” Hatton explains. “It was the vision of the people who founded KIOS, working in concert with like-minded radio broadcasters throughout America, that created NPR.” Five decades later, NPR now boasts around 900 member stations, taking nationwide that mission of educational and public broadcasting held by Price, Fullerton, and their contemporaries.

That mission continues in full force today. “We exist to bring the world to local listeners,” Lyon says, “and what’s good about the anniversary is the opportunity for new ideas at the table that coincide with advancements in technology.” He says that industry experts are all in agreement: radio is as strong as ever. “We’re very conscious as a team of industry trends, and a lot of our upgrades have been looking for ways to keep up, like the huge demand for on-demand radio…we are a voice bringing things to the community, but we also want to give a voice to the community.”

KIOS FM second historical photo

The opportunities to create new programming and rethink distribution have dovetailed nicely into the station’s commitment to community, and Hatton is particularly excited about the developments. “It represents a shift in philosophy: it used to be that curating radio content was top-down—now, it’s the other way around.” KIOS has worked closely with local nonprofits and individuals, giving time to their stories and reinforcing that connection, and the programming under Hatton’s helm has delved into expanding features and reporting on the community.

Recent features—including one focused on the young Methodists who refused confirmation in protest of the church’s LGBTQ positions and another detailing JP Lord School’s extraordinary and innovative program for special needs students—resonated deeply with listeners. “These are sound-rich stories with a real sense of place and atmosphere that’s only possible on radio,” Hatton says. “You can take your time, let the story tell itself; by shifting to feature pieces like these, we can use our resources very strategically.”

“NPR calls stories like these ‘driveway moments,’” adds station manager Ken Dudzik, “because people don’t want to leave their cars until they’re finished.”

Changes to the station programming must be weighed carefully, though, and the team is careful to mind this. “Our listeners trust our schedule to be reliable; you want to hear the program you want to hear when you know it’s going to be on,” Hatton says. “But in order to make room for new programing and to create a tent big enough for new audiences, you do have to tweak and adjust a little… big events like the 50th anniversary are a good time to do that,”  The airwaves will see some shifts, but the biggest new developments will be online. The station is hoping to launch several on-demand streams by the end of the year, including curated playlists for jazz/blues and adult album alternative listening. “We live in a city with a rich musical tradition,” Hatton says, “and our station is just 10 blocks away from Saddle Creek Records…with streaming, we can find a home for that programming.”

When asked about challenges the station has faced over the years, Dudzik is frank: “the challenge is the same as it always is: maintaining ongoing membership.” Dudzik is clear that member support is absolutely vital to the health and viability of KIOS—support that he is extremely grateful for. “It’s a lot of work to ask for money, but when we go on the air and ask for pledges, we want everyone to know this is your station.” The challenges of the moment involve finding ways to sustain funding, but also to grow membership—something Dudzik hopes the station’s new efforts to attract new audiences will help accomplish.

Lyon agrees. “A part of our future will be ways to collaborate with other nonprofits in the community. Having Susan Stamberg at the Joslyn has been extremely rewarding, and we are in a place to become a more relevant and viable resource for the community.” All three are confident that the future is bright, as Hatton puts it succinctly: “KIOS has had a rich history, and it will have a rich future.”

Visit kios.org for more information.

This article was printed in the October 2019 edition of Omaha Magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

NPR throwback

On a Mission to Revitalize North Omaha

February 14, 2019 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Wes and Candy Zollicoffer are not your average neighbors. Instead of plopping down in front of the television after a full day’s work, the Zollicoffers would rather pick up trash along the street or organize a neighborhood barbecue. They hold strong to small gestures like a friendly wave or an unexpected smile—things that can go a long way in maintaining a healthy community.

Longing for resources and a mission to guide those who share their outlook, the couple were happy to partner with Josh Dotzler, CEO of Abide. For more than 30 years, the nonprofit organization has strived to revitalize North Omaha. The enthusiastic couple joined Abide’s burgeoning Lighthouse Leadership Program, and the Zollicoffers found themselves surrounded by like-minded people eager to spread a positive message of kinship.

“My husband and I joined 34 other families acting as Lighthouse Leaders, or Urban Missionaries,” Candy explains. A University of Nebraska-Omaha alumna, she is native to Brewton, Alabama, and reminisces of the strong community ties of her childhood in the South.

“Everybody in my hometown knows everybody, and you can fall asleep with your back door unlocked,” Candy recalls. “I moved from Alabama to Omaha in high school, and the neighborhoods around here are lacking that sense of fellowship. The Lighthouse Leadership Program allows us to live in homes throughout North Omaha rehabbed by partners like Habitat for Humanity. It’s so rewarding to see the change an Urban Missionary’s family can bring to an area, and my three young children are thriving in the environment.”

On any given day you can find the Zollicoffers outside and involved in activities to strengthen the community. With their small children in tow, simple tasks—such as planting flowers around the neighborhood or going door to door singing Christmas carols during the holidays—give them opportunities to interact with their neighbors. Their children also learn the importance of camaraderie, something Candy holds onto when they are shoveling neighborhood driveways after a big snowstorm.

“I definitely appreciate the outdoor activities more during nicer weather,” she admits. “But if someone in my neighborhood needs help, then we are there!”

Abide’s CEO and his family have been transforming neighborhoods dating back to 1988, when Dotzler’s parents—Ron and Twany—moved their 14 children to North Omaha near 33rd and Fowler streets. When the warm weather was abundant, the Dotzlers extended the ultimate olive-branch to their new neighbors with the first of many neighborhood grill-outs. The turnout was huge. More importantly, it gave people a chance to get out of their homes and eat good food while bonding on a personal level.

Dotzler’s parents continued to feel the positive effects their gathering had on the community long after the party ended. The Omaha Police Department eventually acknowledged the family, observing that violent crime in the area had dropped significantly since their arrival. That one-time grill-out expanded into an annual block-party that continues to this day, and Ron and Twany went on to establish the Abide Network in 1989.

Twenty years later, Abide’s Lighthouse Leadership Neighborhood Strategy took shape with the rehabilitation of the first Lighthouse starting in 2009. The Zollicoffers came along not long after, joining the program and moving their family to 33rd and Fowler streets as official Lighthouse Leaders around 2013.

“As Urban Missionaries, we focus on ‘The Three C’s’ to help make everyone proud to be part of our community,” Candy says. “‘Connection’ is important, so we make it a point to have neighborhood events so that everyone can commune and get to know each other. ‘Caring’ about our neighbors and issues within our community is essential to our wellbeing. Finally, we believe that everyone has a ‘calling,’ so we encourage each person to meet their potential.”

After four years, the Zollicoffers saw a significant change in their neighborhood. They had advocated for families dealing with slumlords, and helped decrease gang activity in the area by engaging with their community. Wes and Candy decided to continue their mission and moved their growing family to their current Lighthouse in 2018.

Wes works part-time at Wheatfields downtown and as a personal trainer, and he recently interned at the Boiler Room as part of the No More Empty Pots’ Culinary Workforce Training Program. Candy is employed with Abide in the Development Office.

“We want to keep bringing hope and effective change to the community we live in,” Wes says. “Before the Lighthouse Leadership Program, I’d never known anyone that had been shot. But I saw my family become a beacon of hope after such a tragedy affected our old neighborhood. I ran with a bad crowd back in my days at Central High School, so I am proud to be a testament to our mission and live up to my own God-given potential.”

Abide partners with companies such as Thrasher, Pacific Life, Westin Foods, and many others to provide their Urban Missionaries with a steady stream of resources for nearby residents in need. Combine that with the Better Together Campus established in 2016, and the Zollicoffers have the backing they need to revitalize the North Side, one neighborhood at a time.

“Sponsored programs like the Better Together Children’s Basketball, Second Saturday Serves, and the Bridge Church located on the Better Together Campus are great assets,” Candy says. “We even put our slogan on a T-shirt: ‘We are Better Together.’”

Visit abideomaha.org for more information.

This article was printed in the March/April 2019 edition of Omaha Magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Candy and Wesleyon Zollicoffer and family

The Zollicoffer family

Roger W. Sayers

December 27, 2018 by

Editor’s note: These autobiographical pieces and corresponding photos are part of a special edition of 60PLUS featuring local residents who prove that fashion has no age limits. Click here for the full list of featured models. 

Roger W. Sayers, 76

I consider myself a true product of the Omaha community. I attended Howard Kennedy and Lothrop elementary schools, and Central High School. I received my bachelor’s degree from Omaha University and an MBA from the University of Nebraska-Omaha. I spent many years as a volunteer or board member at numerous Omaha community and civic organizations. My entire working life has been in Omaha. I retired from Union Pacific Railroad after 26 years.

It goes without saying that I am very proud of my accomplishments in the field of athletics, especially being proclaimed the 33rd-greatest athlete in Nebraska history by the Omaha World-Herald, and as the most decorated amateur athlete of my generation. These accomplishments have culminated in being the recipient of eight hall of fame awards for track, football, and overall athletics.

My current focus and pride is my family. My two daughters, three sons, and 12 grandchildren are making a difference and contributing to society. My wife and I thoroughly enjoy their presence.

I frequently get asked about aging and living life. I believe it is very important that you stay active mentally and physically. If possible, volunteer your time and talents. One thing is for certain, you must be able to handle the stress that life will bring. The root of my comfort is the strength and joy that comes from my spirituality and faith.

I have been married to Annette Scott for 33 years. We are compatible on so many levels. We just enjoy being with each other. We love to travel, especially taking cruises and family vacations. Annette is truly my best friend.

Because of my athletic career, and as the older brother of Chicago Bears Hall of Fame great Gale Sayers, sports have always been a source of interest. I am an avid golfer and I am in my element when spending time on the golf course with my companions.

This article first appeared in the January/February 2019 edition of 60PLUS in Omaha MagazineTo receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Roger W. Sayers

Unlocking the Spirit of Christmas at Joslyn Castle

December 10, 2018 by
Photography by Kaylie Clineff

Omaha’s Joslyn Castle hosted an “unlocking” on Saturday, Dec. 8, to get the community in the Christmas spirit.

View live video from the event at Omaha Magazine‘s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/OmahaMagazine/videos/1171471916345075/

The castle was decorated with elegant trees and twinkling lights. The mood was joyous.

Central High School’s all-girls choir singing Christmas carols as guest flooded indoors from the cold.

For the first hour of the event, visitors freely roamed Joslyn Castle’s first floor. Dinner followed in the music room, with a tour of the castle after dinner.

A limited number of guests had access to this event. Guests had the opportunity to view original furniture and clothing from the castle’s original inhabitants, Sarah and George Joslyn.

Event organizers spoke about the structure’s architectural elements and shared stories about how the Joslyns became Omaha’s first millionaires.

Visit joslyncastle.com for more information about Joslyn Castle.

A Culinary Master in the Making

July 4, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

The metal crank wouldn’t work. Witney Stanley had to think of a solution fast. The pressure heated up the kitchen at the Pinnacle Bank Expo Center in Grand Island. The clock ticked tauntingly.

Thirty minutes remaining. 

The SkillsUSA Culinary Arts Championship was on the line. Each participant had to present judges with an entrée from a fabricated whole chicken, a sauce, a vegetable, and a starch. Judges would be expecting a composed salad as well. Only items in the kitchen’s pantry were allowed to be used to create the dishes, and the dinner needed to be cooked in two hours and 30 minutes. Think Top Chef with high school students. 

But the crank was being…well…cranky. 

Witney, a senior at Omaha Central, wanted to win it all. Her competitive drive wouldn’t allow faulty equipment to squash her chances at a medal. After a frustrating five minutes, she grabbed a rolling pin instead to smooth out the dough for her tortellini. She cut it and filled it with spinach, garlic, tomato, and olive. 

Witney inserted the thin thermometer into her roasted chicken thighs. 

155 degrees. 

She rushed to the pantry for oil. The pastor’s daughter took a long deep breath and said a short prayer. Showtime. Only seven minutes, not nearly enough time to cook it completely in the oven. She finished off the chicken on the stovetop with a pan-fried sear. 

The white wine sauce created a challenge as well. Since Witney was only 18 and not legally old enough to drink, she needed to be creative. The young cook substituted white vinegar, onion, and homemade chicken stock. 

She sliced the (finally) cooked chicken, a technique she mastered in between school and tennis. She added Tuscan vegetables and tourné cut potatoes. 


At the April 2018 competition, Witney came away with a bronze medal and a passion for competing. 

But her love of all things savory and sweet is deeply rooted in family heritage. When she was only 4 years old, as her sisters prepped for monthly church outreach banquets alongside their mother, Witney would stand on a stool washing cabbage or setting tables for guests. 

“My mom is a genius in the kitchen,” Witney explains. “She doesn’t trust anyone in there except her daughters.”

Her mother, Alyssa, enrolled all six of her children into cake-decorating classes at Michael’s. Witney, 10 years old at the time, started baking cakes whenever she could for birthdays or other special occasions. After a recommendation from a neighbor, the girls decided to sell their homemade yellow and devil’s food cupcakes with buttercream frosting at the Gifford Park Neighborhood Market. 

“I was hesitant at first,” Witney recalls. “Then I thought, what’s the worst that could happen? I could end up with a tray of cupcakes, and I could eat them.”

The money, though, wasn’t to buy more supplies, candy, or even toys. Instead, the sisters saved it for someone special. It took an entire year, and the older girls had to get side jobs, but it all went to purchase a bedroom set their mother had her eye on for a while. 

“From that point on, they were known for those cupcakes,” Alyssa says. “All just to surprise me with a Mother’s Day gift.” 

It turned into a business, Stanley Southern Sweeties. Each sister plays a role—whether creating roses, borders, or letters. 

Their mother saw something special in Witney and pushed her to cook for the family. She started experimenting even if it meant getting dinner to the table later than usual. 

In order to play tennis, Witney made the move from home-school to Central High School. Introverted and painfully shy, the teenager couldn’t fathom it all. So her sister Justine, who was taking online classes at Metropolitan Community College, went to every single class to watch out for Witney that first year. After taking the No. 1 spot in tennis, Witney soon made friends and discovered culinary classes. Entering her senior year, she started taking classes at the Omaha Public Schools Career Center for college credit. She continued practicing in the kitchen at every opportunity, soaking up knowledge like a sponge cake.

“She’s an example of what we should be seeing in every student,” says chef Perthedia Berry, a culinary instructor at Metro. 

Berry, sometimes referred to as the “female Gordon Ramsay,” can intimidate students. Witney prefers the tough love as it reminds her of her own upbringing. 

“I love the intensity. She [Berry] wants her students to do well. She’s preparing me for the future. If you can get through her, you can get through anything,” Witney says. 

The main issue for the aspiring cook is speaking up. Berry yells at her to stop worrying about offending people. Chefs should be concerned with getting dinner to hungry guests; save the politeness for later. 

With each class, Witney gained confidence. She earned the Best Beef Award at her first invitational (the Metropolitan Community College Institute for Culinary Arts High School Invitational in February 2017). In another competition, two teammates dropped out, but Witney took it upon herself to take all the responsibility. 

“Witney pushes forward, and she’ll be someone you know in this community,” Berry says. 

Her mother, originally from New Orleans, was a mentor for last year’s Metro invitational. So Witney simmered a New Orleans gumbo on the stove and, along with Omaha North’s Ajana Jones, took home the silver medal. 

Witney plans to open a restaurant or a bakery someday, maybe with her sisters. After she takes the accelerated Culinary Arts program at Metro, she plans to enroll at Creighton University for a business degree. The pitfalls are well-known, but that doesn’t stop her. 

“She’s fearless,” her mother says. 

For now, Witney is carefully measuring each step, weighing the consequences, and stirring in a pinch of prayer that her dream will become a reality.

Visit ccenter.ops.org for more information about culinary classes at the OPS Career Center and mccneb.edu for details on Metropolitan Community College’s Institute for the Culinary Arts.

This article was printed in the July/August 2018 edition of Omaha Magazine. 

Jennifer Castello

May 13, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Thirty-year-old Jennifer Castello lives by a simple philosophy: “Art is power.” As a writer, educator, and actor, the Omaha native has tapped into all areas of her deep imagination to carve out her path. She unequivocally believes creativity was put here to bring out a person’s voice, and that’s exactly what she’s doing.

“I think art has worked best when someone isn’t being listened to, then grabs the audience by the scruff of the neck, and through art that person says, ‘Shut up and look,’” she says. “When I’m teaching, it’s not about me. It’s about making sure that at the end of the session, residency, or workshop, the students are equipped to express themselves—be it in a story, in a song, or just in everyday life. Art is self-advocacy. Art is power. Art is resistance.”

Castello began her writing career at the ripe age of 4, when her grandmother discovered how often she was coming up with original stories.

“She pulled out a stack of papers, stapled them together, and told me to make a book,” she recalls. “The pride she took in the stories I told her made me feel like it was something special to be a writer. She was a teacher, and it was also through her and that pride that I realized I wanted to be a teacher, and make some other kid feel just as special as she made me feel.”

At 18 years old, Castello scored her first teaching job, participating in the Teacher Academy Project program at the University of Nebraska-Omaha, and eventually got her teaching license. Now, she freelances at a variety of local organizations, including the Omaha Community Playhouse. 

“I go out into schools and community spaces and engage students in creating something,” she explains. “If that’s creating a clever way to win a drama game, learning how to make their own characters with makeup on their faces, or write their very own script, that’s where my heart is. When I was a kid in Omaha, teachers reached out to me and taught me that my brain had a purpose and a worth, and I’m always trying to pay it forward.”

In terms of her acting, Castello credits her father.

“He signed me up for a class at the Emmy Gifford Theatre,” she says. “Then when the Emmy Gifford turned into The Rose, he made me audition for one of the main stage plays and I got in. It was a community for me to hold onto when things got rough, and I’ll forever be grateful for that community.“

As an author, the Central High School grad was compelled to write The Messiah of Howard Street when she was still an undergrad at DePaul University in Chicago. It was inspired by the colorful characters that have become a staple of the Old Market district.

“I had read My Antonia in my American English class,” she explains. “This wasn’t the first time I read it, I’d read it at Central High my junior year of high school. But comparing and contrasting a Chicago classroom to an Omaha classroom, I realized how fantasized Nebraska is in the minds of people who don’t live here. I mean, there are some obvious stereotypes we’ve all heard, but also the idea that there are rolling fields, and peace, and nature, and all that, it was just weird.”

Like so many other Central High teenagers, the Old Market was Castello’s meeting spot during adolescence. But over the years, she had many other experiences on and around Howard Street that helped shape her life.

“One of my first tastes of freedom was walking down to the Old Market and going to all the shops, getting Ted & Wally’s, and eating way too much spaghetti. Mom would take me to Little King before a dance recital, my best friends held my 18th birthday party as Zio’s, I sang and performed there, and I actually had my first date with my husband at Spaghetti Works.”

Armed with a Master of Science in secondary education from UNO and a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from Stonecoast at the University of Southern Maine in Portland, Maine, she recently held a one-act festival, finished a semester-long scriptwriting residency at Central High, and has become a member of the Nebraska Arts Council teaching roster. In short, Castello stays busy.

“In undergrad, my professor warned me I might not be able to make a living in the arts,” she says. “But being a teaching artist and an arts educator has been something I truly enjoy. I really appreciate being able to do it every day. I get to help kids play pretend. That’s like…the dream.”

To learn more about Castello’s work, visit jennifercastello.com

This article appears in the May/June 2018 edition of Encounter.

Leprosy, Communist Revolutionaries, and a Gun to Her Back

Photography by Bill Sitzmann

In 1948, Barbara Entz’s family moved to Omaha after a blind evangelist from the city, J.J. Esau, told her father to become a minister. Esau was in public relations with the nondenominational Grace Bible Institute when he inspired the Entz family to relocate from New Port, Washington. 

After graduating from Central High School, Barbara attended what would later become Grace University, where she met her husband, Paul. Their shared calling to the missionary field propelled them across the ocean to Ethiopia in September 1957.

Education was important for Barbara during her time in Africa. She educated local women at her home, and she taught at an elementary school. Shortly after arriving in Ethiopia, Paul and Barbara were placed in charge of a leprosarium. Barbara explains, “When we came, we said, ‘There’s no need for some of these to be here a lifetime. Let’s make a two-year program.’” During the two years of the program designed by the young couple, patients would work and receive an education before returning to their communities. The former leprosy patients were no longer outcasts; their education transformed them into respected teachers.

However, not everyone was receptive to outsiders. The communist movement in Ethiopia soon took advantage of widespread famine to spark outrage against the government and foreign visitors. “That’s when they began talking about Americans,” Barbara explains, “[They were saying] ‘Yankees go home!’ And teachers [at] the schools were being accused of things.”

Because of the rising tensions, the Entzes moved to another town to help with famine relief efforts. Even then, they weren’t safe. Emperor Haile Selassie was assassinated and the transition to a communist government began. One night, Barbara went outside with her two daughters. She remembers vividly, “I saw these men with the guns right in my face. Two thoughts came to my mind: get that gun out of my face and let somebody know you’re in trouble.” As she pushed the gun away, it went off, and 33 shotgun pellets found their way into Barbara’s back. Miraculously, none of them hit her spinal column or any organs.

After the attack, in 1976, the Entz family left Ethiopia. Paul and Barbara moved first to Nigeria and then to Kenya (in 1979) to create radio programs, broadcasting the Bible back to Ethiopia. The married missionaries had five children, several of whom were born in Africa. In 1992, they returned to a more stable Ethiopia before finally retiring to Omaha in 1996.

In Omaha, Barbara remains dedicated to improving the community around her. She’s helped immigrants learn English and founded the International Women’s Club to create a new community for foreign women. Hadeel Haidar (originally from Iraq) describes the support the club provides: “One of the ladies here, she’s from Egypt, and she was delivering a baby. Two of those ladies went to the hospital and spent the night with her because she doesn’t have a family.”

Barbara doesn’t seek praise or recognition to motivate her community work. “I don’t need an article about me to give me self-worth; I have that in my status with God. I have such a great family and their love, and so many friends of all nationalities—I am content and happy with my life.”

Her living room is a museum of items showcasing her past: metal crosses on the wall, photo albums, carved wooden statues of African animals, and mugs printed with religious art and Ethiopia’s Amharic alphabet.

She may have left Africa, but her lifelong mission to help others remains active.

Omaha International Women’s Club meets every other Thursday, usually at The Bible Church (9001 Q St.), 9:30 a.m. to noon. The organization also maintains a Facebook page.

This article was printed in the May/June 2018 edition of Omaha Magazine.

2017 May/June Giving Calendar

May 1, 2017 by and

*May 1

Youth Emergency Services’ Golf Outing (10 a.m.-7 p.m.)
Benefitting: Youth Emergency Services
Location: The Players Club at Deer Creek

May 2

50th Annual Boys Town Booster Banquet (5:30-9 p.m.)
Benefitting: Boys Town sports
Location: Embassy Suites, La Vista

Countdown to Cinco de Mayo (5:30-9:30 p.m.)
Benefitting: OneWorld Community Health
Location: Livestock Exchange Building

May 3

Memories for Kids 2017 Guild Luncheon (11 a.m.-1 p.m.)
Benefitting: Memories for Kids
Location: Champions Run

May 4

Heartland Heroes, A Centennial Celebration (6-7 p.m.)
Benefitting: American Red Cross
Location: CenturyLink Center

May 5

Leaders for Life Luncheon (11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.)
Benefitting: Creighton University’s female student-athletes
Location: Ryan Athletic Center

Run for the Wet Noses: Talk Derby to Me (5:30-9 p.m.)
Benefitting: Midlands Humane Society
Location: Mid-America Center, Council Bluffs

May 6

For the Kids Benefit: A Day at the Races, a Night on the Town (5-9:30 p.m.)
Benefitting: Omaha Children’s Museum
Location: Omaha Children’s Museum

May 9

D.J.’s Hero Awards Luncheon (11:45 a.m.-1:15 p.m.)
Benefitting: Salvation Army
Location: CenturyLink Center Omaha

May 11

Evening with Friends (6-9 p.m.)
Benefitting: CHI Health Midlands
Location: CHI Health Midlands Hospital

May 12

An Evening in the Garden (6-9:30 p.m.)
Benefitting: Brownell Talbot School
Location: Brownell Talbot Campus

Man & Woman of the Year Grand Finale Gala (6-10 p.m.)
Benefitting: Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
Location: Embassy Suites, La Vista

On the Road to the Big Easy 2017 (5:30 p.m.-midnight)
Benefitting: Boys & Girls Clubs of the Midlands
Location: Omaha Design Center

May 13

Cabaret (6-9:30 p.m.)
Benefitting: The Child Saving Institute
Location: Hilton Omaha

14th Annual Wear Yellow Ride, Fun Run & Walk (7 a.m.-2 p.m.)
Benefitting: Wear Yellow Nebraska
Location: Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum

2017 Omaha Heart Walk (8 a.m.)
Benefitting: American Heart Association
Location: Miller’s Landing

May 15

Ronald McDonald House in Omaha Golf Tournament (noon)
Benefitting: Ronald McDonald House Charities in Omaha
Location: The Players Club at Deer Creek

Chip in for Children Golf Tournament (11 a.m.)
Benefitting: Children’s Square USA
Location: Council Bluffs Country Club

May 18

SAVE Program Graduation Dinner (5:30-9 p.m.)
Benefitting: SAVE
Location: Champion’s Run

Breathe and Brew Spring Yoga Series (6:30-7:30 p.m.)
Benefitting: American Lung Association
Location: Lucky Bucket Brewery

May 19

Golf Scramble (noon-6 p.m.)
Benefitting: Senior Health Foundation
Location: Shoreline Golf Course

May 20

Great Strides (9:30 a.m.-noon)
Benefitting: Cystic Fibrosis Foundation
Location: Stinson Park

May 22

Children’s Charity Golf Classic (11 a.m.-5 p.m.)
Benefitting: Children’s Hospital & Medical Center Foundation
Location: Champions Run

May 24

Omaha Gives! (midnight-11:59 p.m.)
Benefitting: more than 1,000 Omaha nonprofits
Location: online

May 25

Bland Cares Angels Among Us Golf Outing (10:30 a.m.-7 p.m.)
Benefitting: Angels Among Us
Location: Tiburon Golf Club

May 27

19th Annual Remembrance Walk (9-11 a.m.)
Benefitting: Grief’s Journey
Location: Miller’s Landing/Pedestrian Bridge

June 1

Pinot, Pigs & Poets (6-10 p.m.)
Benefitting: Completely KIDS
Location: Happy Hollow Club

June 2

Grand Slam! (6:30-11 p.m.)
Benefitting: Methodist Hospital
Location: Werner Park

Run for the Young (7-8:30 p.m.)
Benefitting: Children’s Square USA
Location: Peak Performance

June 3

Annual Gala (6:30-11 p.m.)
Benefitting: Joslyn Art Museum Association
Location: Joslyn Art Museum

Ollie’s Dream Gala 2017 (6:30-10 p.m.)
Benefitting: Ollie Webb Center
Location: Hilton Omaha

June 5

Central High Foundation Golf Outing (7:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m.)
Benefitting: Central High School
Location: Field Club of Omaha

CHI Health Golf Outing (10:30 a.m.-4 p.m.)
Benefitting: CHI Health Foundation
Location: The Players Club at Deer Creek

June 7

CHANCE Luncheon (11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.)
Benefitting: Children’s Scholarship Fund of Omaha
Location: CenturyLink Center

June 8

Tee It Up Fore Sight Annual Golf Tournament (10:30 a.m.-3 p.m.)
Benefitting: Outlook Nebraska, Inc.
Location: Indian Creek Golf Course

June 9

Sand in the City (10 a.m.-4 p.m.)
Benefitting: Nebraska Children’s Home Society
Location: Baxter Arena

June 10

Child Saving Institute Kids 4 Kids (7:30 p.m.)
Benefitting: The Child Saving Institute
Location: Sumter Amphitheater

Vets & Pets Blackjack Run (9 a.m.-5 p.m.)
Benefitting: Midlands Humane Society
Location: American Legion

Centennial Gala (7-9 p.m.)
Benefitting: American Red Cross
Location: CenturyLink Center

June 11

Monroe-Meyer Guild Garden Walk (9 a.m.-4 p.m.)
Benefitting: Munroe-Meyer Institute
Location: 150th Street and West Dodge Road to 168th and Harrison streets

June 12

15th Annual Hope Center for Kids Golf Classic (10:30 a.m.-6 p.m.)
Benefitting: Hope Center for Kids
Location: Champions Run Golf Course

Third Annual Golf Tournament (11 a.m.-6 p.m.)
Benefitting: First Responders Foundation
Location: Oak Hills Country Club

Hit the Links and Drive Against Disabilities Golf Tournament (11:30 a.m.-7 p.m.)
Benefitting: United Cerebral Palsy of Nebraska
Location: The Player’s Club at Deer Creek

June 13

Project Harmony Golf Invitational (11 a.m.-6 p.m.)
Benefitting: Project Harmony
Location: Indian Creek Golf Course

WCA Tribute to Women (11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.)
Benefitting: Women’s Center for Advancement
Location: Hilton Omaha

June 14

Hops for Harmony (5:30-8:30 p.m.)
Benefitting: Project Harmony
Location: Werner Park

June 16

Strike a Chord (6-9 p.m.)
Benefitting: Heartland Family Service
Location: Mid-America Center

June 19

Golf Fore Kids (11 a.m.-6 p.m.)
Benefitting: Child Saving Institute
Location: The Players Club at Deer Creek

June 21

The Longest Day, an individualized fundraiser (all day)
Benefitting: Alzheimer’s Association
Location: Donor’s choice

June 24

Wheels of Courage (11 a.m.-4 p.m.)
Benefitting: the Jennie Edmundson Foundation
Location: Quaker Steak & Lube, Council Bluffs

June 30

ALS in the Heartland’s 2017 Golf Classic (11 a.m.-8 p.m.)
Benefitting: ALS in the Heartland
Location: Tiburon Golf Club

This calendar is published as shown in the print edition

We welcome you to submit events to our print calendar. Please email event details and a 300 ppi photograph three months in advance to: editintern@omahamagazine.com

*Times and dates may change. Check the website, or with the event coordinator.

Nebraska’s Capital

January 25, 2017 by
Photography by Contributed

When Nebraska achieved statehood on March 1, 1867, it was the turning point in a 12-year-long, bitter, and sometimes violent struggle to move the capital from Omaha to…well, anywhere except Omaha.

“Divisiveness festered the moment Congress organized the Nebraska Territory on May 30, 1854. The first territorial governor, Francis Burt, arrived in October to determine the capital’s location. In ill health, Burt was besieged by “every influential man in the territory”—especially those with large landholdings in fledgling towns near the Missouri River. Though Burt appeared to favor Bellevue, a more established settlement predating Omaha, he died just 10 days later and “sought in the grave that repose which it was evident he could never find in Nebraska,” according to James Savage and John Bell in their 1894 book, History of Omaha.

“Our pioneer urban developers knew getting the seat of government would help drive their community’s economy. There was no tax base, and they needed all the federal money they could get,” says Harl Dalstrom, retired history professor, University of Nebraska at Omaha. “Even today we may complain about federal spending, but it becomes legitimate and welcome when the dollars come our way.”

The battle for the capital took shape on both sides of the Platte River, a geographical barrier for people north and south of it, and a political dividing line. The Kansas-Nebraska Act that created the Nebraska Territory also focused on slavery’s expansion. The act would destroy Democratic unity in 1860; it split the U.S. into two political parties, with Republicans primarily in the north and Democrats in the south.

Using the Platte as a line of demarcation, Thomas Cuming, territorial secretary and acting governor, divided the Nebraska Territory into eight counties: four north and four south of the river. Although a census showed more people lived south of the Platte, Cuming announced the first legislative session would convene in Omaha.


A rising young Iowa Democrat, Cuming undoubtedly was influenced by his ties to Council Bluffs and his landholdings in Omaha. “Both cities were interdependent as the West expanded. It’s unlikely Omaha would have existed without its ties to Council Bluffs,” says Dalstrom. The Council Bluffs and Nebraska Ferry Co. supported Cuming’s decision, offering its meeting house on Ninth Street between Farnam and Douglas streets for the session beginning Jan. 16, 1855.

Rancor soon was apparent, with delegates from Bellevue and south of the Platte arriving dressed as Indians, wearing red blankets “to indicate their ‘savage’ intentions toward Cuming,” according to Upstream: An Urban Biography of Metropolis Omaha & Council Bluffs, co-authored by Lawrence Larsen, Barbara Cottrell, and Harl and Kay Calame Dalstrom.

Cuming ignored the blanketed delegates. A.J. Hanscom, unofficial leader of the Omaha delegation, was elected Speaker of the House, supported by his friend, Andrew Jackson Poppleton, a master of debate and parliamentary skill. Buoyed by rich Omahans who bribed delegates with money, land, and promises, the two led a joint resolution on Feb. 22, 1855, naming Omaha the capital, with the ferry company’s meeting house becoming the first capitol building.

The second territorial capitol was built in 1857 on the site of today’s Central High School at 20th and Dodge streets. Scarcely had the mortar set when Omaha’s adversaries introduced a bill in January 1858 that would move the capital to a new, non-existent town. Omaha did not have enough votes to stop it, so Hanscom and Poppleton began a carefully orchestrated showdown using parliamentary procedure, writes David Bristow in A Dirty, Wicked Town: Tales of 19th Century Omaha.

Through a technicality, Poppleton succeeded in getting Nebraska City’s James Decker, the new House Speaker and an Omaha foe, out of the speaker’s chair, and temporarily replaced him with J. Sterling Morton, an Omaha ally. Intending to filibuster until time ran out on the session’s remaining eight days, the Omaha contingent drew the wrath of Decker, who vowed to regain the chair “or die trying.”

Decker attempted to pry the gavel from the chair’s occupant, then tried to tip him out. Hanscom engaged Decker in a tug-of-war, igniting a brawl with bloody noses and black eyes too numerous to mention, writes Bristow. On the following morning, the anti-Omaha crowd adjourned to Florence (then its own city) and carried a motion to move the legislature there. However, Acting Governor Cuming refused to recognize the Florence legislature, supported by incoming Gov. William Richardson.

The struggle to relocate the capital continued year after year until December 1866, when the U.S. Congress passed a resolution naming Nebraska as the country’s 37th state, effective March 1, 1867. President Andrew Johnson opposed the statehood and vetoed the bill. But Congress overrode it, the only time in U.S. history that a statehood bill became law over a presidential veto, writes Tammy Partsch in It Happened in Nebraska: Remarkable Events that Shaped History.

To placate those south of the Platte River who were considering annexation to Kansas, the legislature voted to place the capital city in Lancaster County. Prior to the vote, Omaha Sen. J.N.H. Patrick attempted to thwart the move by naming the future capital city after recently assassinated President Abraham Lincoln. It was assumed Democrats would not support a capital named after the Republican president, but the Removal Act successfully passed in May 1867.

Gov. David Butler and others toured sites and, by September, had zeroed in on the village of Lancaster, renaming it Lincoln. The state capitol building was completed Dec. 1, 1868, but despite the intervening months, nothing had been done in Omaha to prepare for the move. Many officials, including Butler, didn’t believe Omaha’s citizens would let the capital go.

So, during an evening snowstorm in late December 1868, men surreptitiously entered the Omaha capitol and cleared it of all documents, deeds, and certificates related to the governance of Nebraska, writes Partsch. By midnight the men and pack horses departed, spiriting the documents to Lincoln’s new capitol building, where the Nebraska Legislature would meet within a month. Like the history preceding it, the change was made under a cloud of politics and controversy.

Visit nebraskahistory.org for more information.

Clarence Wigington

December 15, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

When she lived a block away, Linda Williams would pass the Broomfield duplex at 25th and Lake streets almost every day. That was a little more than a decade ago.

As she walked past the duplex, she remembers thinking, “There is something interesting about that building…something I really like.” She liked the diamond shapes inside the top border, the hints of classical style in the columns in the front, as well as the rhythm and symmetry in the arched windows.

She did not know what made the building so special until a 2002 trip to the Great Plains Black History Museum.

clarencewigington2It turned out that the Broomfield duplex, built in 1913, was indeed special. In 1909, it won first prize for “best two-family brick dwelling” in a national competition sponsored by Good Housekeeping magazine. The duplex’s 2502-2504 Lake St. address was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, too.

But what made it particularly significant was that it was one of many residential structures in the area designed by Nebraska’s first African-American architect and also the nation’s first African-American municipal architect—Clarence W. “Cap” Wigington.

Williams was shocked. She had a Bachelor of Science in design from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s College of Architecture, and this was the first time she had ever heard about Wigington.

“I thought, ‘If I’m educated and I don’t know about him, there are a lot of other people who don’t know about him,’” Williams says. “So ever since then, I’ve been spreading the word about him.”

Williams, who works in the architecture field, has spent the last several years working to shine light onto Wigington’s work. She has presented seminars about Wigington for the Douglas County Historical Society and currently leads Restoration Exchange Omaha’s North 24th Street Walking Tour, which highlights three of Wigington’s significant Omaha buildings.

Wigington was born in Lawrence, Kansas, in 1883 and his family moved to Omaha shortly thereafter. Wigington graduated from Central High School (then Omaha High School) at age 15 and worked for the prominent Nebraska architect Thomas Kimball for six years before opening his own office. While he was in Omaha, he designed almost a dozen homes by independent commission, mostly in his North Omaha neighborhood. In 1914, he and his family moved to St. Paul, Minnesota, where he served as a senior designer for the City of St. Paul for 34 years. He designed several municipal buildings as well as monumental ice palaces for the St. Paul Winter Carnival in the 1930s and 1940s. He passed away in Kansas City in 1967 at age 84.

While Williams highlights several structures on her 24th Street tour, including Kimball’s Black History Museum and the Jewel Building (designed by F.A. Henninger), she spends a significant amount of time and effort explaining the three buildings on the route by Wigington.

She talks about the Broomfield duplex and the fact that it was actually one of two identical duplexes on the corner designed by Wigington. The second, called the Crutchfield duplex, was destroyed by a fire in the 1980s. Williams talks about Zion Baptist Church at 2215 Grant St., another structure on the National Register with big classical columns, original stained glass windows, and a cornerstone with Wigington’s name. And she talks about the prairie style and craftsman elements of St. John’s African Methodist Episcopal Church at 617 N. 18th St., which Wigington helped remodel.

“I thought, ‘If I’m educated and I don’t know about him, there are a lot of other people who don’t know about him. So ever since then, I’ve been spreading the word about him.”  -Linda Williams

Williams’ dedication has so far caught the attention of architecture and preservation aficionados in Omaha and nationwide. In 2015, she won a diversity scholarship through Historic New England and she was recently named a Diversity Scholar by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Another recent honor was particularly significant to Williams, even though it was not even for her. In October, the Central High Alumni Association inducted Wigington into their hall of fame. Since no one from Wigington’s family was able to accept the award, Williams was asked to accept on their behalf. Williams plans to deliver the award to the family, who live in Chicago, this year.

It was a humbling honor to accept the award and a humbling duty to continue sharing Wigington’s legacy with everyone who will listen. She says it is important for people to know not only what he did, but that he accomplished so much during a time in history when black men faced significant challenges.

“When you think about that particular time and era, there was Jim Crowism going on,” says Ethel Mitchell, current owner of the Broomfield duplex. “To have this black man do what he did and design this type of building was just unheard of. It’s hard to put words to that—it’s just outstanding.”

Visit restorationexchange.org/events/walking-tours to learn more.