Tag Archives: Elkhorn High School

Wood Works

February 16, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

It all began with a Hail Mary pass to get Graham Nabity enrolled at Elkhorn High School in time for football season.

In 2010, David and Kim Nabity hastily moved from their 5,000-square-foot Pacific Hollow home to a 2,700-square-foot, 1965 Elkhorn home just in time for Graham to suit up that fall. With three of the seven Nabity children still under the roof at the time, David says they “sardined” themselves into the new, smaller home.

“The whole point was moving in with enough time for [Graham] to start at Elkhorn, so we always knew at some point we’d do something different with the house, but it took us six years to finally get to the place where we had the design we wanted and were ready to do it,” says David, an Omaha native who grew up in the Benson area.

At the tail end of 2017, after 15 months away for a massive remodeling project, David and Kim finally moved back into their gorgeous, fully redone (now 3,800-square-foot) Elkhorn home that makes heavy use of gorgeous reclaimed barnwood. Why so long? Well, that whole “fully redone” part ended up being much more involved than initially expected.

The first order of business was clearing the ample lot from its excess of uninviting flora.

“The woods were so thick when we moved in you couldn’t even walk through them—it was just dead trees, thickets, poison oak vines, thorn bushes…It took me two years to clean the grounds so we had a meadow,” David says. “By about year four, I’d cleared out all the trees so we could see the beautiful river valley view we have now.” 

From August 2016 through December 2017, the Nabitys moved in with their son, Justin, planning to simply skin the outside and inside of the home, “leave the sticks and the roof, and add on the garage and extension.” But simple was not in the cards for the Nabitys.

The framers reviewed the plans and the house, indicated the plan was not possible, and recommended tearing down the south side of the house. The Nabitys agreed to that, only to discover that the house also lacked headers over the doors and windows, and the frame was not bolted to the foundation. Ultimately, they took the house all the way down to the foundation and built back up from there—thus the unintended 15-month diversion to dwelling in Justin’s unfinished basement.

In January 2017, the Nabitys parted ways with the original general contractor and David took over the project, with no prior construction or homebuilding experience.

“Since I’d never built a house before or been a general contractor, I was flying blind,” he says. “I had to really trust and rely on my subcontractors because I was in uncharted territory.”

But what David lacked in experience, he made up for in vision and vigor.

“Our vision for the house was rustic meets elegance; for the home to feel warm and friendly,” David says. “It’s kind of a Cape Cod look meets mountain home. Over the years, Kim and I visited places like Beaver Creek, Colorado, and Whistler in Canada, and we love the mountain home look of housing in those areas. Since we’re on a hill overlooking the river valley, we wanted to bring that mountain home feel to the house and felt like the barnwood would do the job. We couldn’t be more thrilled with [the result]. It’s exactly what I envisioned it would become.”       

In the meantime, Graham had indeed played football for Elkhorn, and then UNL, before graduating college and partnering in Nebraska Barnwood with David’s friend Tom Day, who had a massive supply of reclaimed barnwood.

“They build barnwood tables, desks, other pieces of furniture, and I bought all my barnwood from their company,” David says. “I picked up the wood, brought it home, power-washed and sanded every board, and stained, painted, or put a clear poly on every board that’s in the house. [Kim] and I worked side by side on that.”

The result is lovely, with a variety of barnwood featured throughout the home, from David’s Western/cowboy-themed office with a horse-worn, notched barn beam and striking multicolored boards in a repeating 8-inch, 4-inch, 6-inch pattern, to the airy, open floor plan living/dining/kitchen area, to the French mountain resort-esque family room with natural stone fireplace, to the stunning master suite, and beyond.

Every inch of the home is appointed with thoughtful care for details like doorknobs, hinges, and other hardware to add subtle elegance, as well as strategic use of knotty alder for certain doors and trim areas to mimic the rustic barnwood charisma. Corresponding colors and themes are found throughout the house.

“Every room’s a little different, and I use the barnwood differently in every room, but I tried to tie all the metals and wood together,” David says. “A lot of thought went into each space as far as how we [executed] to get the look we wanted.”

Ultimately, David says the end result was worth the wait, and though much of the remodel could’ve been achieved with any wood, he and Kim love the way their use of reclaimed barnwood lends character and warms up the home.

“God provides a seed, you plant it in the ground, and it grows into a tree. Then that tree provides fruit or shade until it comes time for the tree to die or be harvested. Then you cut the tree down and can shape the wood into so many different things. But once you stain it and put it at its rightful place, it just lives forever,” he says. “It’s a really phenomenal natural thing, when you think about it. If you take that concept to an old barn, the wood is old, tired, worn, used…yet it still maintains that character, and when you bring it back to life by power-washing, sanding, and staining it, something really special happens. It goes way beyond just being a piece of shiplap; there’s much more to it. It’s an amazing thing.”

Visit nebraskabarnwood.com for more information about Nebraska Barnwood and the reclaimed wood used in the Nabitys’ Elkhorn home.

This article was printed in the March/April 2018 edition of OmahaHome.

A Hidden Myth in Elkhorn

December 15, 2014 by and
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

On one late fall day, as most high school students were shuffled to and from sports practices, band rehearsals, and gatherings at friends’ houses, 15-year-old author Brandon Bauer was hard at work at a local Barnes & Noble signing copies of his first book, the Greek mythology-inspired A Hidden Myth. It’s a process that’s been more than four years in the making, but one that didn’t come as a surprise to the diligent teenage scribe.

Brandon, a sophomore at Elkhorn High School, released his first book of seven in his series, Heroes of Light, through Tate Publishing this October. The first entry, which will be available on Amazon and in some Barnes & Noble stores, follows the three main characters of Perseus, Hercules, and Athen, as they are pulled back in time by Kronos, the Lord of Time. The rest of the series will follow other characters in Greek mythology as they attempt to defeat the three Dark Prophecies set forth by the evil Kronos.

Despite the intense amount of work creating such a complex series entails, Brandon never had any doubts that he would finish his book. If there’s one trait that Brandon has, it’s focus, says his mother, Cathy.

“Even when he was a baby, you could put him in one spot, and he could play for hours,” Cathy says. “He had an imagination—he wasn’t all over the place like some other kids were, but he was focused.”

It’s this focus that has kept Brandon consumed with writing even as his life is constantly sidetracked by health issues. Brandon was born with a cleft palate, and has had approximately 10 to 15 surgeries to fix it during his lifetime. This December, he is also receiving surgery to treat his scoliosis. However none of these surgeries will set back the timeline of the release of Brandon’s future books.

According to Cathy, Brandon was bitten by the writing bug around age 9. While Brandon has written piles and piles of short stories over the years, he didn’t begin writing the Heroes of Light series until he was in sixth grade. Brandon had enjoyed reading Greek mythology and thought he had enough ideas that he could actually put together a book. But not just one book—Brandon knew from the beginning that he wanted to do a series of seven.

“I like long, complicated plots more,” Brandon says. “They keep me guessing more, and you’re more into the story.”

After numerous edits, Brandon and Cathy began reaching out to publishers in January. They heard back almost immediately from Tate Publishing, and signed a contract in February. After five more rounds of edits and selecting cover designs, Brandon received the first copy of his book in September. Now Cathy and Brandon are in the process of setting up book signings and presentations to schools to promote the series.

Brandon hopes to continue writing or to go into film production. He’s coy about what lies next for him—“I have some ideas”—but doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon. He is already editing the second book in the Heroes of Light series, writing the third one, and has outlines for the fourth and fifth.

“Brandon is pretty laid-back, and he kind of goes with the flow,” Cathy says. “But it’s an accomplishment; I would never have been able to do this at his age.”

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Olde Towne Elkhorn

December 4, 2014 by and
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

As with any small town in America, seasons change and visitors come and go. But one thing that remains the same is the locomotive’s plaintive whistle heard all up and down Main Street in Elkhorn. Just a stone’s throw from the tracks, Olde Towne, as some locals refer to it, has experienced a renewed vitality in the past eight years after a number of new businesses opened.

The town was just recovering from a 2005 annexation by the city of Omaha. The locals fought hard to remain independent but Omaha won out.

“The only thing they did was change the numbers on our street and changed the names of some of the streets,” says Leona Anderson, owner of Little Scandinavia specialty shop.

Across the tracks is a tidy, 3.6-mile stretch of bricks laid in 1920 as part of the Lincoln Highway connecting New York to San Francisco. The secluded and serene stretch was recognized as part of the National Register of Historic places in 2003. “You’ll see the markings on the poles. A lot of bike riders like to take that route,” Anderson says.

A regular at monthly merchant meetings, Anderson has played a revitalizing role in Olde Towne by writing TIF (Tax Increment Financing) grants for Mayor Jean Stothert’s Neighborhood Grants.

“We are the ones carrying the ball,” she says. Soon, they will be receiving more TIF money for streetscaping, planting, and parking. “We’re up for big changes here. It will be fun,” Anderson says. Other projects include funding for such public amenities as trash receptacles and park benches. The benches are certainly comfy, but some of the most prized perches are the bar stools at Boyd & Charlies BBQ, where locals flock for ribs and ribbing. At least a few of the tales told among the slabs and slaw are rumored to have at least an element of the truth to them.

Although much is changing, it’s clear the long-time residents prefer the quaintness of yesteryear. “People in Elkhorn don’t like to be considered part of Omaha, so we respect that. You learn that very early, especially with the oldtimers, ” says Andrea Ramsey, owner of Andrea’s Designs.

There is no shortage of special events to attend in Elkhorn. The Christmas Tree Lighting is a popular event, as well as the crowd-pleasing Elkhorn Days Parade held in June. The area merchants also hold a Ladies’ Day event every month to showcase various seasonal specials. There’s also a Farmer’s Market on Thursday nights throughout the summer.

Ramsey is a merchant who takes part in the ladies’ events and has also had a hand in grant-writing. The opening of her store happened rather organically about five years ago. “I knew I wanted to end up starting a shop somewhere.”  She spotted a building on Main Street that used to be welding business.

“We kept coming out and driving by, trying to get a feel for it.” She noticed tools in the window. After a few months, she realized those tools never moved. It was a challenge for her to find out who owned the building, because it still had the old Elkhorn number system on the window. “Before that, there was never a reason for me to come to Elkhorn, and I’m glad I did.”

Shelley Van Hoozer, a nurse and mother of three, has lived in Elkhorn since the early ’90s. “When we moved here,” she says, “it still had that country, small-town feel and everybody was really friendly.” She and her husband, Ross, chose the small-town vibe of Elkhorn after first checking out Gretna and then Millard.

Her favorite thing about living in Elkhorn is the schools, Elkhorn High School and Westridge Elementary School where her children attend. “The kids are getting a good education. The teachers are really good about staying in contact with the parents.”

Van Hoozer enjoys spending time with her family at Ta-Ha-Zouka Park (roughly translated as meaning an elk’s horn) along the river. “It’s pretty cool. There are soccer fields, baseball fields, and playground equipment.” She also frequents Common Ground Recreation Center for swimming and working out. She says that a visit to Elkhorn would not be complete with a trip to the Dairy Chef. “Everybody goes there. It’s a landmark, I guess you’d say. The Dairy Chef is a big deal.”

She says that Elkhorn feels safe and is a good area to raise her kids. “I think any of our neighbors would agree.”

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