Tag Archives: Lake Zorinsky

Quail Hollow: Where Everybody Knows Your Name

December 28, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Located not far from Lake Zorinsky, Quail Hollow has streets lined with tidy homes occupied by retirees and young families. Quail Hollow residents not only know their neighbors, they also like to spend time with them. Neighborhood picnics, potlucks, parades, and block parties are par for the course for this neighborhood that is frequently described as “safe” and “friendly” by residents.

They are not simply speaking of human residents. Quail Hollow abuts two-to-three acres of a wetlands preserve, which is popular with many residents. The protected wetlands draw many varieties of birds, including eagles, owls, hawks, ducks, and cardinals. The natural setting also provides habitat for raccoons, squirrels, and other animals. Quail Hollow residents were so fond of this natural feature that they enthusiastically added retaining walls, bridges, and walking trails when the neighborhood was still a sanitary improvement district.

“It’s a great place to live,” says LaVerne Benck, current homeowner association president and longtime resident. “It’s quiet.” Benck moved to Quail Hollow around 15 years ago, three years after the subdivision opened. “We lived in Stonybrook for 31 years, but we wanted a ranch-style home. Quail Hollow was around 40 percent full when we moved in.” The subdivision currently consists of 222 homes. There are a total of 229 lots.

Benck and the other HOA board members are responsible for ensuring everything goes according to the neighborhood covenants. “We work together and keep the neighborhood in shape,” he says. For the residents, this means not having above-ground pools, sheds, or junk cars sitting in driveways, and using only approved colors for roofs and fences. Perhaps most noticeable when driving through the neighborhood is the no-trash-cans-in-front rule that Benck and his fellow board members promote and enforce.

“We can’t let people slide,” he says, explaining that anyone violating the covenants receives a letter. “It’s up to the board to enforce the covenants.”

If a resident wants to challenge one of the covenants, they must compel 75 percent of the Quail Hollow homeowners to side with them, otherwise the HOA can take legal action. That hardly ever happens, though, according to Benck, who says most homeowners have no trouble following the rules. The HOA isn’t lenient because, as Benck explains, allowing one person to break a covenant is like “opening Pandora’s box.”

So what happens when a passionately led HOA is coupled with a geographically attractive neighborhood? Resident Victoria Boldt says, “I would say Quail Hollow is special because neighbors really look out for each other and we have a strong sense of community. It’s an excellent place to raise a family.” 

Quail Hollow resident Mike Reed agrees. “It’s a pretty quiet and safe neighborhood.” Residents are considerate, Reed adds. “We love living in Quail Hollow because neighbors watch out for each other. During the winter, neighbors help each other clear their driveways.”

“Over the years we’ve lived here, the summer picnic and the Neighborhood Night Out have been the highlights for me,” Reed says. Benck adds that last year’s Night Out included clowns, face painters, and hot dogs, and that people of all ages had a great time.

A group of resident volunteers man the Citizen’s Patrol Group, who “patrol to make sure everything’s peaceful and quiet,” Benck says, adding, “No reports of crime out here.” Reed agrees, “I watch posts on the NextDoor website and see a lot of negative stuff [car break-ins, intruders, etc.] happening in other neighborhoods, but I hardly ever hear anything bad happening in Quail Hollow.”

It’s a tight-knit community, which is by design. Benck explains that the many community activities within the neighborhood are designed to “draw people together to meet their neighbors. We have a good mixture of young and old here. Everyone participates as a neighborhood—anything to bring the neighbors out.”

Quail Hollow was annexed into the City of Omaha in September 2018. Benck says the annexation happened “without protest” since most homeowners were eager to enjoy the drop in property taxes the annexation would bring. He also says being an official part of Omaha allows Quail Hollow to qualify for funding for their citizen’s patrol. Before the city took control of the neighborhood, the HOA oversaw a number of beautification projects including adding a walkway to the wetlands area located within the boundaries of the neighborhood.

In the warmer months, residents can be found walking their dogs along the many walkways in Quail Hollow. “During the summer, as I’m walking my dogs through the neighborhood, I see families out talking to each other and their kids playing together,” Reed says. When the weather turns chilly, everyone in the neighborhood gears up for the holiday lighting contest sponsored by the HOA. The top three winners receive gift cards, but as Benck explains, the competition stays friendly. “They have a good time doing it,” he says. The HOA also pays a service to decorate the front entrance during the holidays.

When asked what he tells people who ask about his neighborhood, Benck simply says, “You’re missing out.” Quail Hollow continues to impress as a friendly, safe place to live in any stage of life—just be sure to keep those garbage bins out of sight.

Visit myquailhollow.com for more information.

This article appears in the January/February 2019 edition of OmahaHome. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

LaVerne Benck, current homeowner association president and longtime resident of Quail Hollow

Run, Seth, Run!

April 18, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Seth Hirsch can be seen at Lake Zorinsky by 6 a.m. most mornings. He’s out there running laps around a lake most of us would struggle to walk once. He’s driven to become the best runner he can—and he is succeeding.

“He’s by far the best in the state of Nebraska,” says Colin Johnston, track and cross country coach at Millard West.

Hirsch, now a 16-year-old junior, has run the mile in 4 minutes and 30 seconds. He has broken the 15-minute barrier in the 5K.

For some context: the median time for a runner in their 20s to complete a 5K is about 25 minutes.

Add to his amazing times the fact that Hirsch also broke both fibulas last year.

“I was probably doing too much mileage and got stress fractures,” Hirsch says. He cracked one fibula in the fall while running cross country, the other in the spring while running track. It’s not entirely surprising, given that he ran 90 miles a week.

SethHirsch2After the discovery of each stress fracture, his doctor ordered him to take some time off. Even after taking nearly two months to rest, he was able to return in time for the track season and still place third at the state meet in the 3200.

“There aren’t that many kids I’ve worked with who have worked as hard as he does,” Johnston says. “He’s a great kid.”

That hard work extends to scholastics, in which Seth has achieved a 4.5 GPA weighted, and a 4.0 GPA unweighted. The extra weight comes from AP biology, AP European history, AP environmental science, and AP government and politics.

All of this puts him in good standing to achieve that ultimate student goal…scholarship money.

“I’ve been talking to some colleges,” Hirsch says nonchalantly. “Portland, Wisconsin. Stanford, Georgetown. Columbia University in New York. All of them have good distance programs.”

Right at the moment, it’s all just talk. Once July hits, the calls will likely start to pour in. (Law mandates that July before one’s senior year is the earliest a student can be recruited.)

He’s ready for it, he’s interested in it, and he knows what to expect. His sister, Sidney Hirsch, runs at Wichita State University.

Sidney ran for her college this fall season, even though she suffered from plantar fasciitis in both feet. This affliction is an inflammation of the tissue along the bottom of the foot that connects the heel bone to the toes.

It was Sidney who got Seth into running.

“My sister ran for Omaha Racers,” Seth says of discovering he wanted to run at age 10. “I went to some practices with her and I wanted to do it.”

Seth used to play soccer, but he quit this past year to focus on running.

“I just liked it the most, so I just decided to focus on that,” Hirsch says nonchalantly.

“I thought he was pretty good,” says his mother, Liz Hirsch. “The coach and everyone else was like ‘wow—this boy can run.’ I like that he’s found the passion for this.”

Allie Baxter

August 29, 2013 by
Photography by Allie Baxter, The Salvation Army, and Prudential

Since she was a little girl, Alexandra ‘Allie’ Baxter could be heard ringing bells next to The Salvation Army’s iconic red kettles during the holiday season, taking donations for those in need. Now, her relationship with the signature red kettle takes on new meaning as the founder of the Red Kettle 5K Run.

Baxter, a recent graduate of Millard North High School who will be attending Northwestern University in the fall, started the fall charity event in 2010. Assigned to come up with a project for school, Baxter turned an idea for a charity event into a full-fledged business proposal, which she pitched to The Salvation Army. The inception of a run as a charity event, however, happened earlier that year while partaking in her favorite hobby.

“I was running another 5K charity event, and I noticed there were tons and tons of people there. And I thought to myself with that many people, you can really spread a message to lots of different people but also bring in lots of money and food,” Baxter says.


The 5K run takes place at Lake Zorinsky and asks that participants pay a $10 or 10-food-item entrance fee. This year’s run will take place on Oct. 12. While the format of the run has not changed in its three years, fund- and food-raising efforts have skyrocketed. The first year brought in 16,000 food items for The Salvation Army, while last year garnered 45,000 items.

“Since we do a low-cost, high-benefit event, where we put in as little as we can to get the most out of it, whatever we bring in goes straight to the pantries and is immediately helpful,” Baxter says. “There seems to be an increasing need every year with the financial situations as they are. More people need the help and they all need it at the same time, especially going into the winter season.”

Omaha is not the only city where Baxter’s influence runs deep. The Salvation Army has started Red Kettle 5K Runs in major cities like Chicago and St. Louis.

“We’re trying to maintain a blueprint for the event. In Des Moines, they don’t need food because someone else helps them, so they bring in toiletry items. It adapts to what you need, and that’s what’s great about it,” she says.

For her efforts, Baxter received The Prudential Spirit of Community Award this past spring. The award, created in 1995, recognizes young people for their outstanding volunteer service. Baxter traveled to Washington, D.C., to receive her award, meeting Academy Award-winning actor Kevin Spacey along the way.

Allie Baxter meeting actor Kevin Spacey at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History in May.

Allie Baxter meeting actor Kevin Spacey at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in May.

“[The recipients] were put into groups, and we all were able to present our projects and hear what other people thought of them. I like hearing feedback from other people and learning how I can improve what I’ve started,” Baxter says.

Baxter is uncertain what her future holds for her at Northwestern, but she admits that through working with The Salvation Army, the business world has piqued her interest. Whatever she decides to do, she wants to continue working with The Salvation Army in Chicago and help combat hunger.

“There is this divide where people don’t realize there is a need, that there are people going hungry, there are people without homes. There’s a nonattachment between teens and what’s actually happening,” Baxter explains. “Hunger and homelessness are issues that are tough to fix. And when they are hard to fix, it makes people give up trying.”

Allie Baxter is one person who refuses to give up.