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City Council
Council will hear potential Luther Road design changes at first meeting in March

The Fremont City Council will hear potential design changes for the extension of Luther Road south of Morningside Road in March after concerns about the project were brought forward during its meeting on Jan. 29.

During the council meeting last week, Councilmember Brad Yerger brought forward a resolution instructing the city engineer to develop a street extension design plan that would not offset Luther Road—south of Morningside Road—to the west of the easement centerline between the Deerfield and the Morningside Pointe subdivisions.

The resolution also called for the elimination of any design plans to open up intersections from Luther Road into the Deerfield Subdivision.

“The reason for including this tonight was I received several letters, calls and comments from constituents in my ward seeking explanations about this road project and seeking an opportunity to speak out in opposition of the proposed Luther Road extension location and the opening of intersections into Deerfield,” Yerger said.

Following a lengthy discussion between council and Public Works Director Dave Goedeken, the council instead voted to continue the matter until its first meeting in March to allow Goedeken time to address design concerns raised by Deerfield residents.

Much of the discussion about the Luther Road extension project centered on a preliminary design plan which would offset the road approximately 8 feet to the west—towards the Deerfield Subdivision—from the easement centerline between Deerfield and the yet-to-be-developed Morningside Pointe project on the east side of Luther Road.

During the meeting, Goedeken said the potential design plan—which offsets the road from the easement centerline—was made in consideration of construction limitations to stay within public right-of-way as well as to address the need for stormwater drainage along the Luther Road extension when it is completed.

According to Goedeken, offsetting the road to the west will allow for an open storm water drainage ditch to be placed on the east side of the road which he said provides several advantages including cost savings and added water retention.

He also laid out another design option would keep the Luther Road extension on the easement centerline—but would require a drainage pipe to be built and placed under the shoulder on the east side of the road.

“With the ditch, you have the benefit of lower cost, storage of water, cleaning of water, but you have a ditch—that’s the downside,” he said. “The benefit of the storm sewer pipe is that it’s neat and it’s all covered, but the downside is the cost and we are retaining nothing in the system. The water is flushing down that pipe and dropping out in the ditch to the south.”

He said that the cost to complete the project with an open ditch and the 8 foot offset to the west is estimated at $750,000 while completing the project with a drainage pipe would cost “considerably” more.

“We are probably looking at adding 20-30 percent cost to the project by doing a pipe,” he said.

Ultimately Goedeken said he could deliver a safe and well-designed project whether the road is offset to the west of the easement centerline or built on the centerline, but he cautioned the council as far as their consideration of limiting design options at this phase of the process.

“There are other avenues of doing exactly what the resolution is trying to do,” he said. “By this resolution—if you approve this tonight—you limit my design options. Limiting me to one option really limits my ability to do my job.”

Goedeken’s concern about the proposed resolution centered on the request within the proposed resolution calling for the elimination of any design plans to open up intersections from Luther Road into the Deerfield Subdivision.

“The design of the street whether or it be straight or curved that’s good engineering design—it’s safe but there is a cost difference,” he said. “The intersection, I have serious concerns that I could put my stamp on that. By closing that road there you potentially put me in a situation where I violate the requirements of my engineering license because I have to give you a good product.”

Concerns raised by Deerfield residents and several council members regarding connecting Deerfield Avenue to Luther Road included creating unwanted cut through traffic through Deerfield as well as potential liability insurance increases related to a lake and park in the subdivision which are maintained and paid for by Deerfield residents through Homeowner Association dues.

“The concern is once that road gets opened up—since there is no green space attributed on the Morningside Pointe area—you are suddenly going to have a little bit of an entourage visiting the neighborhood and trying to go to the parks and lake,” Councilmember Susan Jacobus said.

Yerger also expanded on that point.

“People in Deerfield told me they pay the liability cost associated with those (parks and lake) and opening that up to a lot of public traffic from another subdivision would only run the potential risk of them having increased liability cost,” he said.

Another point of contention for Deerfield residents was that the city had previously denied a request to connect Deerfield Avenue to Luther Road several years ago before the Morningside Pointe development was planned in the area.

“They asked for those to be opened before and they were denied,” Yerger said. “They have since said they don’t want and don’t need them after 20-something years because it would only facilitate traffic that is unwanted.”

Goedeken said that connecting Deerfield Avenue to Luther Road would be important from a design perspective in terms of creating another entrance for emergency personnel and vehicles to get into the Deerfield subdivision as well as diverting traffic from the subdivisions lone entrance on Morningside Road.

“It puts me in a very difficult design position—as far as stamping a drawing with my name and my license—without that connection there, because I truly believe it is needed for emergency vehicles and just serving the community,” he said.

Ultimately the council decided the best course of action regarding the proposed resolution was to continue the matter to a future date to allow Goedeken time to address concerns about the proposed design and to provide alternative design plans at that time.

The council passed a motion to that effect, which continued the discussion until its first scheduled meeting in March.

Women donate dresses for Night to Shine event

Given just two hours to live, Brooke Day got her first beautiful dress when she was in a neonatal intensive care unit.

The dress was yellow and had daisies.

Brooke defied the odds and got another lovely dress to wear home from the hospital. That dress was purple and had lace.

Throughout the years, Brooke would acquire many pretty dresses, including an orange one she wore when earning the title of Nebraska Miss Amazing Junior Queen for 2014.

When Brooke and her mom, JoEllen, moved recently, they came across the dresses.

There were 34.

Day could have sold her daughter’s dresses — which she wore for pageants, proms and many other special occasions.

But she and Brooke had saved the dresses, figuring they’d do something special with them.

And they have.

Brooke and her mom said they donated 30 of the dresses to “Night to Shine” set for Friday at Fremont Nazarene Church. The annual event, sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation, is a prom for people with special needs.

“They’re special,” Day said of the dresses. “Brooke wore them and she wanted someone else to have them.”

In their Fremont home, Brooke and her mom reminisced on Monday about the history of these dresses.

Brooke was born on March 9, 1998, in Omaha, where she wasn’t expected to live long, but Day agreed to let doctors try a treatment — not yet approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

The baby would spend the first year of her life in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Nebraska Medicine.

“She came home on 47 different machines, a ventilator breathing for her and lots of medicines,” Day said. “She was on the ventilator until she turned 7. She has flat-lined 65 times — 24 of them were in my care where the Fremont Fire Department came and took us to the hospital. The rest were in the hospital.

“It’s incredible that she’s here.”

Local residents had a fundraiser for Brooke, who continued to progress.

Brooke was 7 years old when a trach tube was removed and she started breathing on her own.

At 9 ½ years old, she started walking and was about 10 years old when she began talking.

Brooke was 14 years old when she began eating. Before that, she’d been fed through a gastrostomy tube.

Day said her daughter was 13 when they attended a pageant for little girls. Day thought it was too bad a similar event wasn’t available for girls with disabilities.

Then Day’s son, Dylan Kaup, suggested she go online and see if there was such an event.

That’s when Day found the Nebraska Miss Amazing pageant. The annual event is designed to provide opportunities for girls and women with disabilities to build confidence and self-esteem in a supportive environment.

“They get to spend the day just being themselves. The whole day is about them,” she said.

Each contestant gets a volunteer buddy. They participate in arts and crafts. A meal is provided for contestants and their parents.

For the event, Brooke would need two outfits — a fancy dress and an interview dress. She got a long, orange-colored formal dress. For the interview, she wore a light pink, street-length dress.

And the dress accumulation process began.

Brooke competed in 2013 and won the Nebraska Miss Amazing Junior Queen for 2014.

“I was super excited,” Brooke said.

Brooke received a trophy, tiara and a hot pink sash. She then went to parades, outings, churches and nursing homes.

Dresses would be needed for Brooke’s appearances and when she went to prom at Fremont High School and a couple of weddings. Day would buy the dresses, including some from her son’s friends.

Brooke also went to the national Miss Amazing contest in Omaha. During the national competition, she earned the runner-up title.

She has continued to compete in the statewide event each year, except for last year when she didn’t feel well.

So from the time Brooke was 13 until she was 20, she’d end up with 34 dresses, not all of which fit her anymore.

“We had planned one day to do something very special with them,” Day said. “Then we heard about the ‘Tim Tebow Night to Shine Prom.’”

The two decided they wanted to donate dresses to an event where girls with special needs — who might not have an outfit — could “feel like a princess for the day.”

Day said Brooke knows many of the girls who will attend Night to Shine, because she participates with them in Special Olympics basketball and track.

“She wanted them to have the dresses,” Day said.

Recently, there was a day when those participating in Night to Shine could come select attire — dresses, tuxedos, shoes, ties and jewelry.

“She got to watch a lot of girls pick her dresses to wear so it was really awesome,” her mom said.

Brooke was able to select a new dress for herself, too, along with jewelry.

Day said her daughter misses the dresses a little, but is happy that others got them. Brooke, who graduated from high school in 2017, plans to attend the Night to Shine event this weekend.

She also plans to continue participating in the Nebraska Miss Amazing Pageant. The next pageant will be in November.

Brooke and her mom will keep collecting dresses, too. Day said they plan to team up with the church to donate dresses for future Night to Shine events.

Anyone who’d like to donate a dress should contact Day via Facebook.

In the meantime, Day hopes to create more awareness of events for people with disabilities.

“We need more of these things for disabled people,” Day said. “It’s important that they get a special day as well, where no one is going to make fun of them or put them down or tease them.”

On Monday afternoon, Brooke was thinking ahead to Night to Shine as she provided a big, pageant-size smile for a photograph.

The former NICU baby has had some practice when it comes to proms, pageants, photos — and persistence.

“Brooke shouldn’t be here,” Day said. “She’s a miracle.”

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Can-N-Ball Classic returns

MainStreet of Fremont is set to hold its annual Can-N-Ball Classic, an event that encourages Fremonters to explore some of the downtown area’s watering holes — while playing a little mini-golf along the way.

This year’s event will feature six different locations in the downtown Fremont area: Doe’s Place, the LA Fire Proof Door, Corner Bar, the Eagles Club, Whis’s End Zone and the Wine Experience.

Those who sign up to participate in the event will get the opportunity to play putt putt golf as they go bar hopping between each of the locations.

This year will feature a new spin: several of the locations will incorporate “Beer Olympics” activities in addition to the putt putt golf.

Teams of four can register for $100 at Costumes are encouraged.

The proceeds go back to MainStreet of Fremont to help provide opportunities for project improvement plans in the downtown area, said MainStreet of Fremont’s Executive Director Courtney Schaefer.

The organization’s mission is to promote and improve Fremont’s downtown area. Schaefer said that events like this both promote bars in the area and create more foot traffic, which leads to more visibility for other businesses.

“These events, what they do, is they’re going to bring some presence to the community; not only to our lounges where you can go to at night and have a couple drinks, but it also brings visible presence to the businesses around them in the downtown area,” Schaefer said.

The event will take place on April 13, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Schaefer just took over as executive director of MainStreet of Fremont last month, and she says she’s most excited to see how Fremonters use the event to show off their creativity.

“I’m excited to see how well our citizens of Fremont interact with everybody downtown,” she said. “And what they do with their teams and their team names — their creativity behind the event.”