Tag Archives: Sarpy County Sheriff

Junk Bonds

August 2, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

It doesn’t take long to discover some dirty business in Sarpy County Attorney Lee Polikov’s past—and that’s a good thing.

More than a century ago, Polikov’s paternal grandfather, Benjamin, left a small village outside Kiev, Ukraine, and came to the United States. A peddler in his native land, he did similar work here, earning enough to bring his wife and three children to the United States as well.

Eventually, Benjamin began Aksarben Junk Co. at 13th and Webster streets. His son Abraham—Lee’s father—joined the business.

Lee remembers accompanying him on the half-Saturdays his father would work. “We’d sit and watch the scale,” he says. Mostly, though, his father wanted him to “stay out of the way.”

Abraham wanted something different for his son: “Get an education, assimilate, adapt, and grow,” Polikov says.

Polikov has done that and more, establishing a career peddling justice rather than junk.

Lee-Polikov1He’s done so as Sarpy County’s attorney since 1999. He was first appointed to the position but has since earned re-election four times.

“I’ve had a fortunate career, both in law enforcement and prosecution as the chief law enforcement officer,” he says. “It gives me a lot of satisfaction.”

Even if it’s not the career he  initially envisioned.

A 1966 Omaha Westside graduate, Polikov earned a business degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a commission as first lieutenant with the U.S. Army while serving in ROTC. Next came a degree from UNL College of Law.

“My goal, my ambition, was to do federal law enforcement,” he says.

But the feds, he recalls, were under a hiring freeze then. Instead, Polikov made his way to Sarpy County, where Pat Thomas had taken over the sheriff’s office. Polikov joined him as an administrative assistant, but with an agreement that he’d be there just a year until he started looking again for a federal gig.

“That just never happened,” says Polikov, who eventually became chief deputy and counsel in the office.

Pat Thomas remained Sarpy County Sheriff for 32 years. Polikov stayed with him until he was appointed to his current post. Today, he manages a staff that includes 23 attorneys and 75 support staff. “Which is really a rather large law firm,” he says. “I’ve got a great team. We feel we’ve been able to provide a good, safe community for people.”

Polikov is 67 now and has been Sarpy County’s attorney for 17 years. A great time, perhaps, to call it quits and spend days of leisure with his wife of nearly 40 years, longtime Mannheim Steamroller director of communications Terry Calek?

Polikov says he has no plans to retire.

“It’s a great job. I enjoy it immensely,” he says. “I like the association with the staff and what we do, and those successes go beyond putting people in prison or setting people up to go to prison. It’s helping people that need help.”

Visit sarpy.com/attorney for more information. Sixty-Plus in Omaha

Wild Willy’s Respite

July 1, 2016 by
Photography by Colin Conces

Jennifer Williams grew up in Houston, making Nebraska’s cold, windy winters seem interminably long. “Everything just seems to shut down,” she says wistfully, standing in the kitchen of the six-bedroom, six-bath home she shares with her family, including husband Dan, daughter Brooke, 11, and son Dawson, 9. “It’s so bare outside.”

WildWillys3Walking through the first floor of the two-story brick house, past the formal dining room, Dan’s office, the master bedroom, Brazilian cherry wood-trimmed kitchen, quaint butler’s pantry, living room, den, and a sunroom that nurtures several potted aloe plants, the thought of settling in for a long winter’s nap indoors doesn’t seem like a bad deal—until you open the back door. There, on the south lawn, the reason for Jennifer’s cold weather lament reveals itself.

A poolside paradise occupies almost one-third of the family’s three-acre property in the aptly named Hidden Valley neighborhood—accessible from an unmarked dirt road that winds behind the Sarpy County Sheriff’s building. “We spend a lot of time out here and we entertain a lot as well,” says Jennifer, standing on a spacious deck that runs along the width of the house. Peering down from the deck’s railing, she points out the hot tub and a fire pit underneath, where many a marshmallow has met its demise.

WildWillys2The clear blue shade of the salt water in the large square pool matches the color of the sky on this sun-kissed afternoon. A spiraling waterslide guarantees a splashy landing near the pool’s basketball hoop and volleyball net. Four deck jets shoot shimmering arcs of water across the pool, but the visual fun happens after the sun goes down. “The fountain jets shoot colored streams at night,” Jennifer says. “It looks like a bunch of Roman candles going off.”

The Williams family knows something about pyrotechnics. Dan owns Wild Willy’s Fireworks, headquartered in his hometown of Springfield, Nebraska. For a business that only sells merchandise from June 25-July 4 and December 29-31, Wild Willy’s does a bang-up job. “In Omaha, there are 50 tents selling fireworks this summer, and 21 of those 50 tents are ours,” says Jennifer of Dan’s “hobby.” He also owns Tighton Tools and Fasteners, and a construction company.

In August, when Dan has more time to relax, the family holds a big blowout for friends, family, and neighbors. Fireworks cover the entire yard, lighting up the sky while a band plays under a tent. Accommodating a lot of guests poses no problem.

Dozens of lounge chairs, lined up beside each other with great precision, cover the pool deck and the patio. A charming pergola, the framework of which includes interlocking wooden slats on top, offers respite from the sun. With its Oriental décor and wicker furniture accented with burgundy-colored pillows, the pergola provides a setting so relaxing, it has “don’t call me until September” written all over it.

WildWillys4Across the pool from the pergola stands a structure that resembles a modest, Hollywood-style bungalow. Its exterior mimics the main house, with two white columns supporting a brick archway. Intricately designed wrought-iron screens protect the glass doors and windows.

Looks can be deceiving.

The “bungalow” is actually a stand-alone garage, where Dan and son Dawson have bonded by building two Chevy Chevelles from scratch. Garage amenities include a full bath and an RV hookup.

The cozy grouping of a lanai, open-air bar, and decorative water fountain fit seamlessly along the outside of the garage. A large fireplace of natural stone built into the wall provides enough heat to the lanai’s living room area to extend summer well into October. The polished, deep amber-colored travertine tile floor catches the eye, as does an electrified sun—a unique wall hanging made of orange metal the Williamses found in Mexico.

A smaller sun “light” hangs above the granite-top bar on the south end of the lanai, where family members can park themselves in bar stools, sip raspberry lemonade and watch a game on cable. They may also opt to turn off the wired-in music system and listen to the soothing sounds of trickling water from the fountain.

These are the times Jennifer cherishes—quiet moments with her family, eating dinner and playing cards in their little slice of heaven. She thinks about when she and Dan met, at the University of Nebraska at Kearney in the `90s, and the nearly 10 years she spent working in California before she returned to Omaha and married. As she surveys her Hidden Valley treasure, she says, almost inaudibly, “We love our life. We give thanks every day for what  we have.” OmahaHome