Tag Archives: Omaha Magazine

January/February 2020 Between the Lines

December 31, 2019 by

Leo Adam BigaContributing Writer

Leo Adam BigaBiga is an old lion of Omaha journalism. In a 36-year career he’s reported on the arts and culture scene, and on social justice issues in his hometown. He’s known for writing about the African-American, Latino, Jewish, and senior communities. Biga’s special interests in cinema, sports, and literature has given him the opportunity to interview and profile many filmmakers, athletes, and authors. He has organized film events, and taught film history and appreciation classes. His life partner, Pamela Jo Berry, is an artist and writer. Her daughter, Beaufield Berry, is a playwright. Biga’s proud to be part of one of Omaha’s first writing families.

Virginia Kathryn GallnerContributing Writer

Virginia Kathryn Gallner playing guitarGallner is a folk-rock musician and writer based in Omaha. Her songs stand at the crossroads of folk, blues, and jazz. She has participated twice in the Silkroad Ensemble’s Global Musician Workshop, as well as Richard Thompson’s Frets & Refrains Songwriting Camp. Gallner has volunteered with Omaha Girls Rock for three years as a guitar instructor, band coach, and after-school instructor. She has been nominated for Best Blues and Best Folk/Americana by Omaha Entertainment and Arts Awards. Her debut album, Vintage Sepia, is available on all streaming services. Gallner is finishing her first novel, beginning a graduate program, and continuing work on her second album (while occasionally sleeping). Visit virginiakathryn.com to see her work.

Sean RobinsonContributing Writer

Sean RobinsonGrowing up, Robinson’s family always agreed on one thing: Sean never shuts up. Years later, he’s still talking—but he’s made a career of it as a copywriter and communications specialist. From startups and Fortune 500 companies to nonprofits and PR firms, he’s told brand stories for myriad companies across the metro. He really gets to talking when discussing his uber-naughty boxer dog Frank, the joys of being an active runner who chooses to never do a marathon, or his Oscar predictions. Readers: you’ve been warned.

Gwen Lemke Senior Sales Associate

Gwen Lemke 2019Omaha Magazine’s resident mother and grandmother, Lemke has been with the publication as senior sales associate and contributing editor for 60-Plus almost as long as she was in her previous career in real estate. She owned a real estate company and was active in the real estate association. Gwen and her husband, Raymond, raised four amazing sons—RL, Todd (the magazine’s publisher), Brad, and Tyler. The family now includes nine grandchildren. Gwen enjoys meeting with people, often making friends as she works with them on their marketing needs.

This article was printed in the January/February 2020 edition of Omaha Magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Editor’s Letter: Quit Smoking? Lose Weight?

December 16, 2019 by

Double-digits. Like many, I’ve been saying, “I can’t believe it’s 2020.” It’s a new year, a time to better oneself.

The most common resolution is to become healthier—45% of resolution-makers decree that they will lose weight. Many of those people will drop the resolution, not the weight. A study conducted by University of Scranton stated that only 8% of people achieve their New Year’s goals.

The people mentioned in our lead story may or may not have made a New Year’s resolution about their health, but they certainly achieved weight loss—to the tune of nearly 400 pounds. One person gave up alcohol, then smoking, then started exercising. One person worked with doctors at the Bariatrics Center at the UNMC. One person started a keto diet to help alleviate pain. A fourth had surgery and continued their weight-loss journey afterwards.

While they lost weight, they also helped their blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, and more. The three aforementioned issues are also risk factors for stroke, a condition that affects more than 795,000 per year, according to the CDC. The majority of those people are over age 65—but around 15% are under 45. We interviewed three women around age 45 who experienced strokes when relatively young. Their strokes brought them together, and they have been advocates and friends—calling themselves the Stroke Homies (aka Stromies)—since.

The Stromies, fortunately, all live in the Omaha area and were able to receive medical treatment in a timely manner. Those who live in rural areas may not be able to arrive at medical treatment in time to prevent major brain damage, or even death. The University of Nebraska is helping to alleviate this problem through its Rural Health Opportunities Program, a collaboration between several smaller state schools and UNMC. Makayla Brockhaus of Creighton, Nebraska, is one person who is using this program in hopes of becoming a health professional in a rural area.

Hopefully, by the time Brockhaus and her fellow students graduate from medical school, a few debilitating diseases will be reduced or perhaps eliminated. Dr. Channabasavaiah B. Gurumurthy of the UNMC found an easier way to study genes and has been shaking the scientific world, collaborating with genome experts from Stanford to Oxford. His method is finding genes that are responsible for diseases from sickle cell anemia to certain cancers.

One reason this research is exciting is because, as Jackson Parks said, “The hospital isn’t everybody’s favorite place to be.” This Creighton pre-med student devotes his hours outside of school to helping others, particularly those at CHI Bergan Mercy Hospital. He answers phone calls and questions in person, and sometimes goes above and beyond by helping feed patients or going on walks with them.

With Parks’ people skills, he is likely going to have a great bedside manner, such as that of Dr. Oleg Militsakh, a plastic surgeon in Omaha. Militsakh is a specialist among specialists, and his work at Methodist Health Systems concentrates on those people who have experienced problems with basic functions such as swallowing or speaking.

Because this is our medical issue, nearly all our articles focus on health in some way. Our chef profile is about Dan Hamilton, head cook at Children’s Hospital & Medical Center, and his struggles with Guillain-Barré. He was diagnosed with this paralyzing condition in May 2019, and with hard work, he retrained his fingers to do everything from use his mobile phone to chop vegetables. It took five months for him to be able to work again.

That is about half the time it took Robert Chandler to go back to his passion of diving. This champion who has dived everywhere from Nebraska to South Korea misgauged a maneuver in early 2014 and hit his skull. Doctors said he would never walk again, but less than a year after becoming paralyzed, he not only walked onto, but jumped off of, a diving board.

None of these stories would be possible without the help of, and training by, the best doctors and nurses in the area. In this issue we also bring readers the Best Doctors 2020 list, and the 2019 Nurse of the Year winners.

This is 2020: A time to start anew. We hope these stories inspire you to exercise more, quit smoking, lose weight, volunteer, or anything else you resolve to do this year.

This letter was printed in the January/February 2020 edition of Omaha Magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Daisy Hutzell-Rodman 2019 A+C

Daisy Hutzell-Rodman is the managing editor of Omaha Publications.

November/December 2019 Between the Lines

November 11, 2019 by

Mike Cutrera IIIT Support

Mike Cutrera, IT

Cutrera hails from Cajun Louisiana, was raised in Texas, currently lives the Nebraska good life, and is becoming Nova Scotian. While his geek gene has been glowing brightly since birth, he also thrives as a musician, maker, and artist/photographer/videographer. As an entrenched lifelong learner, Cutrera enjoys reading, the sciences, and voluminous hours immersed in existential thinking and study of the Comprehensive Anticipatory Design Science works of Buckminster Fuller. He loves spending time with his wife, daughter, grandkids, and extended family. When not geeking out or traveling, he might be found cheering on hockey, curling, and sumo teams.

Carrielle SederstenContributing Writer

Carrielle Sedersten

Sedersten covers arts, culture, and people. A UNO journalism alumna, she’s a self-described content connoisseur. When she encounters people out in the wild, she has to remove her headphones and pause one of the many podcasts she listens to religiously. She loves reading nonfiction books and binge-watching the hottest TV shows when she has time. Sedersten embraces the millennial stereotype of choosing experiences over stuff, from dining at the latest Omaha restaurants to catching a musical at the Orpheum Theater. She loves traveling to new cities and is obsessed with French culture. When she’s not in Omaha, she can be found kayaking, snorkeling, or walking the beach during winter in Florida. She stays active with her dogs Louis and Lola, and loves to spend time nature bathing. Her guilty pleasures include all things Walt Disney World and Twitter.

Houston WiltseyContributing Writer

Houston Wiltsey

Wiltsey is a music journalist who started writing as a way to get free concert tickets. Three years and dozens of articles later, he’s still doing it for that reason—but with the bonus of being able to photograph the artists he loves. When he’s not agonizing over his word choices and punctuation usage he can be found cooking, spraining his ankles playing basketball, reliving old glories on the soccer field, and trying to learn Oasis’ back catalog on guitar.

Rebecca Weis Intern

Rebecca Weis

Weis was born and raised in Scottsbluff. She is a junior at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, where she is majoring in broadcast journalism. Her favorite way to spend her free time is hanging out with friends while goofing off and binge-watching shows on Netflix or Hulu. Her passions include writing, performing, and traveling. She recently spent six months studying abroad, which taught her that sometimes the best things come from new and different experiences. Weis is unsure where her degree will take her after graduation, but she is excited and looking forward to life beyond college.


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

Second Annual Best of Omaha Soirée

October 23, 2019 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Announcement of the 2020 Best of Omaha winners—as selected by the community—will take place during the Second Annual Best of Omaha Soirée, held from 6-10 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 7, 2019, at the Empire Room in Midtown Crossing. The list is exclusive, only 3% of Omaha businesses have won the right to claim the distinction of being “Best of Omaha.”

This event will feature networking with hundreds of fellow business owners, managers, and notable Omahans. Performances by Flowtricks Entertainment will astound guests throughout the evening, and Omaha-famous DJ Shif-D will set the mood with just the right music.

Attendees will include the Best of Omaha winners, Best Doctors, Best Lawyers, Top Dentists, and 2019 FACES of Omaha recipients.

Wine and a complimentary cocktail will be provided by Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits, with beer generously provided by Granite City Food & Brewery.

Delectable appetizers and desserts from several Best of Omaha winners will be making the rounds, including: Best Bison, Burrito Envy & Tequila Bar, Cupcake Island, Mama’s Pizza, Pettit’s Pastry, Ray’s Original Buffalo Wings, Smitty’s Garage Burgers and Beer, and Voodoo Taco. Futuramic’s Clean Water Center will keep everyone hydrated.

Be sure to come dressed for success and ready to make many interesting new connections. In this exclusive venue, space is limited—only 500 tickets are available! Get yours here now. 

If you have any questions or would like to be a sponsor, please don’t hesitate to contact:

Tara Spencer
Event Director
W: 402.884.2016


Best of Omaha Voting 2020

August 3, 2019 by

Is there a restaurant whose dish you crave at least once a week? A grocery store you depend on to always have what you need? Do you have a mechanic you (routinely) trust with your life? Or a vet who’s helped you through all the issues (and heartache) having a pet entails?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, be sure to vote for them in this year’s Best of Omaha Voting 2020 contest.

Best of Omaha Voting 2020 is simple.

  1. Register on bestofomaha.com
  2. Check your email and click the link.
  3. Vote for a minimum of five categories. (Though you are welcome to vote in each.)
  4. Click the “I’m Done Voting” button to submit your votes.

Voting runs between July 1 and Aug. 20, 2019. Only one vote is allowed per email, but you may return as often as you like to add to, or modify, your ballot.

If you don’t receive your voting link email, check your spam folder for an email from bestofomaha@govotemail.com. Still no luck? Please contact us directly at joshua@omahapublications.com.

Please note, voting works best from a laptop or desktop, but you are able to vote from your smartphone.

Help support your favorite local businesses! Register to vote here.

For more information, and to see last year’s winners, go here.

June 2019 Between the Lines

May 28, 2019 by

Sara Hunt—Food Stylist

Food stylist Sara Hunt, Between the Lines

Sarah Hunt grew up playing in the flight kitchens at Eppley Airfield, where her father worked with the chefs to develop menus for long flights. She has been obsessed with art, color, balance, structure, and food ever since. Hunt graduated from college with a degree in studio art and opera performance, and moved back to Omaha to begin her career. Hunt landed a job on the crew of the Alexander Payne film Election and paid attention to every department and what roles they filled on set. Pick Flick cupcakes opened the door to a career she had no idea existed—foodstyling. She discovered this was a perfect fit and began assisting every stylist possible-—washing dishes, shopping, prepping food, and maintaining their kits. She assisted for 10 years, learned all the tricks of the trade, and has been styling food ever since.

Pumulo KasajiEditorial Intern 

Pumulo Kasaji, intern, Between the Lines

Pumulo Kasaji is a West Coast California girl trying to survive the Midwest. She is in her third year at College of Saint Mary, where she is majoring in English and communications, and minoring in business and creative writing. She hopes to one day work at a publishing firm and maybe write a book. When not in school, she enjoys reading, binge-watching everything there is to watch on Netflix and Hulu, and spending time with her friends. Aside from the occasional nap, she enjoys sharing her opinion on Stuart Little to anyone and everyone who will listen, even when they are not listening.


Tim MaidesContributing Writer

Tim Maides, contributor, Between the LinesTim Maides is an Omaha, NE based purveyor of food and the soap wizard behind Benson Soap Mill. Born and raised in Switzerland, cooking with his grandma was always one of his fondest memories growing up. He would never call himself a chef, as he has never gone to culinary school. He enjoys working with his hands creatively, whether it is using similar techniques found in a kitchen to produce locally made soap or hosting pop-up dinners with static menus and locations. He has spent the last year and a half cooking seasonally in Germany and traveling around the globe, trying new foods and finding old friends.


Kara SchweissContributing Writer

Kara Schweiss, contributing writer, Between the LinesFreelance journalist Kara Schweiss began writing for Omaha Publications 21 years ago. She is a Nebraska native and graduate of the University of Nebraska-Omaha’s School of Communication. Her writing, editing, and project management work for publishers, nonprofit organizations, and commercial entities has spanned many facets of the communications sector, including advertising, marketing, broadcasting, online, and social media. She prefers to work behind the scenes and enjoys the satisfaction of telling a good story or making complex information clear and comprehensible more than seeing her name in bylines and credits.
Schweiss says she’s proud of her professional body of work but maintains that her two sons, Brock (13) and Quinn (10), are her favorite creations.

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

Omaha Magazine’s Food Issue Launch Party

May 24, 2019 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

We invite you to join Omaha Magazine for our June issue launch party on Sunday, June 2, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Florence Mill Farmer’s Market.

This is our annual food issue, featuring a roundup of new places to eat around Omaha, a food tour of Southeast Asia from Omaha chef Tim Maides, the best places to get fried pickles, and all the usual suspects.

Don’t forget to sign up for the watermelon-eating contest taking place at noon. Then stick around after for some sweet tunes from special guest, Joshua Hoffman.

Check out the wares and learn about the history of the mill, and be sure to pick up your copy of the magazine!

Please come out to the Florence Mill Farmer’s Market and help us celebrate our city’s food culture.

Here’s a little preview (from last year’s event) of what to expect . 



From the Editor: Tyler Lemke In Memoriam

April 23, 2019 by

Long before becoming Omaha Magazine’s vice president of operations and chief operations officer, Tyler Lemke started working at Our City magazine in 1989 with brother/publisher Todd Lemke while still in college at University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The Papillion High School graduate (Class of ’85) also worked for a time at Vitality Magazine. He wore the most hats of anyone employed at Omaha Magazine—ad salesperson, deliveryman, accountant, graphic designer, art director…even janitor. Most recently, his primary duties involved: advertiser billing/accounting, overseeing the Best of Omaha contest, and managing all company information and technology needs. He was a doting father of three daughters and avid motorcyclist.

Born Nov. 2, 1966, he died at age 52 on March 23, 2019. He is survived by two daughters, Sarah Eve Lemke and Danielle Rose Lemke; his mother Gwenivere D. Lemke; brothers RL Scott Lemke (and wife Amy), Todd Raymond Lemke (and wife Sandy), and Bradley Stephen Lemke; and numerous aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, and friends. He was preceded in death by infant daughter Vivian Leigh Lemke and father Raymond L. Lemke.

Memories from Colleagues

Tyler, my talented and loyal brother, had been at the magazine for over 25 years (holding jobs like sales, design, accounting, IT, and more) Tyler was the original creator of HER Magazine and Bride & Groom Magazine. He was a loving father, son, brother, uncle, cousin, and friend who put others first. He believed in the individual and freely gave everyone his time and expertise. His absence is a great loss at work and an irreplaceable loss for our family.

—Todd Lemke (publisher)

Tyler was extremely funny and loved to poke fun at himself. He had a great sense of humor and could have me laughing so hard, I had tears. He loved to try new things that were organic and natural. I remember all his different smoothies over the years, and how he loved to talk about using coconut oil; him sneaking around eating chocolate from anyone that had some sitting out; and talking to me about his online dating funnies (and how funny women could be, and not be). Tyler was so very methodical—about anything from fixing your computer, to folding banners to go inside Best of Omaha envelopes, to explaining/showing each step through any particular process. He was so very smart and analytical. He had a funny voicemail that he is rarely in the office, but he was actually almost always here. I will miss him terribly.

—Sandy Matson (assistant to the publisher)

After nearly 17 years working together, I have a ton of stories about Tyler. Tyler was one person I sought counsel from—for everything. From personal life to health, computing, or buying a car, he was informed and always did his due diligence. I took it for granted that he would always be there because he was. He made me laugh, question many of my preconceived ideas, and introduced me to the “Illuminati” ;). I never once saw him be cruel, mean, or disrespectful to anyone. He asked me every single day if I was OK, “Do you need anything?” and I’m pretty sure he did that to everyone. I wish I would have asked him the same more often. I traveled a bit with Sarah on shoots and we would talk about her dad from time to time. I would tell her, “ I love your dad,” not realizing I really meant it. Tyler became a brother of mine and I’ll miss him dearly. RIP Tyler, we love you, buddy.

—Bill Sitzmann (associate publisher)

I never had a dull moment with Tyler. I loved his quirky humor and sage-like wisdom when it came to all things tech. Every time I heard him coming to the art room door, I knew I’d be laughing and we’d be trying to outdo each other’s dry jokes. He knew how to make us laugh during the most intense weeks of magazine upload. A handful of times, when he would ask “can I help you,” we would randomly joke about wanting Raising Cane’s, and he’d go out secretly bringing meals back to the art room. Anytime I ever needed computer equipment or art materials, he always went out of his way to make sure I got it—even if that meant coming in on the weekend to get things up and running. In the two and a half years I worked with him, he was there almost every day, and I knew I could count on him if I needed help with anything. There was even a time he raced back after 5 p.m. on a Friday upload day to recover a file I accidentally deleted. Tyler definitely felt like an uncle to me. I will deeply miss his kung fu in the hallways, scaring him at the front door, and racing him to the last donut.

—Derek Joy (senior designer)

Published in the May 2019 edition of Omaha Magazine, this is a condensed version of colleagues’ tributes to Tyler Lemke. The full version can be found at https://omahamagazine.com/articles/tyler-lemke-in-memoriam/.

To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Tyler Lemke and daughters, Danielle and Sarah

Tyler Lemke and daughters, Danielle and Sarah

May 2019 Instagram

April 18, 2019 by

Here are the nine images featured in our May issue. Click on the photos to view the contributors’ Instagram accounts. Include the hashtag #OmahaMagazine with your Instagram photos to be featured in the next issue of Omaha Magazine.

Follow Omaha Magazine on social media via InstagramFacebook, and Twitter. Find us at @omahamagazine.

Truck in Hamburg flood


evening view of Woodmen Tower


lone deer in snowy road


photographer with camera in smoke


downtown panda house during nighttime snowstorm


trees at sunset during flood scene


The Lumineers onstage


Downtown slides at Gene Leahy Mall


snowy Cemetery with angel


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

May 2019 Between the Lines

April 17, 2019 by

Julius Fredrick Contributing Writer

Julius Fredrick

When not obsessively curating Spotify playlists or wiping away a single cathartic tear from the corner of his eye at the end of a good read, Julius Fredrick can often be found at the zoo giving unsolicited tours to his friends and family. He enjoys food cut into triangles (pizza, quesadillas, finger sandwiches, etc.), and poorly delivering the misheard lyrics of his favorite artists (David Bowie and Kendrick Lamar). With degrees in English, anthropology, and psychology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Fredrick is inspired by the mysteries of the human condition and seeks to better understand both himself and the people around him, however clumsy the pursuit may seem.

Kate SmithEditorial Intern

Kate Smith

Kate Smith is an aspiring lifelong learner. Currently studying journalism, political science, and French at Creighton University, she has always had a strong connection with words. The self-proclaimed bookworm takes any opportunity she can to read or write. Smith hopes to pursue a career in news reporting and conduct research. Omaha is her home—with the restaurants, art galleries, and outdoor spaces she loves so much—but she also loves to travel. In 2018, Smith finally saw the ocean for the first time and she was swept off her feet. When she’s not studying, exploring, or traveling, Smith spends her free time challenging her mom to games of Scrabble, spending time with family, trying out new recipes in the kitchen, taking care of her plants, and playing volleyball with friends.

Sarah LemkeContributing Photographer

Sarah Lemke

Sarah is a junior at the University of Nebraska-Omaha studying journalism and anthropology with an emphasis in creative media. Lemke began working as assistant to photographer Bill Sitzmann in 2012, and she has contributed photography to Omaha Magazine since 2013. Lemke also operates her own photography business; she previously worked as the photo editor for Fat Brain Toys and photographer for radio station KZUM in Lincoln. On top of being a federally licensed drone pilot, she is an avid motorcycle rider (a trait inherited from both of her parents), a dog fanatic, and a music enthusiast. You can often find her bowling terribly at West Lanes mid-week with her friends and winning first place in Mario Kart.

Tim TrudellContributing Writer

Tim Trudell

Tim Trudell remembers hammering out his version of a neighborhood newspaper on an old typewriter his parents gave him as a childhood gift. After actually entering the journalism profession, he wrote stories ranging from national news to local sports. He has worked in community news in Papillion, Ralston, and Gretna. He is now a full-time freelance writer and online content creator (working primarily with magazines and newspapers). Trudell is the co-creator, photographer, editor, and writer for the travel blog The Walking Tourists (thewalkingtourists.com). He and his wife, Lisa, are co-authors of 100 Things to Do in Omaha Before You Die and the upcoming Unique Eats and Eateries of Omaha. Trudell is about to start working on a new book, 100 Things to Do in Nebraska Before You Die.

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