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About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (Dec. 11, 2000)
'A needed shot in the arm"
27th Street plans comma to fruition
BY CASEY JOHNSON
Buildings have been razed, trees have
been planted and new signs have been post
Now, residents of Lincoln are beginning
to see the fruits of the labor gone into the
North 27th Street revitalization plan.
Community officials say the plan has
been successful so far because of the combi
nation of private, governmental and grass
Wynn Hjermstad, community develop
ment manager for the Urban Development
department of Lincoln, said one of the good
things about the project is that business
owners and residents of the area contribute
to the overall ideas of the revitalization.
"Thxes generated in that area are paying
for it, so it’s a pretty neat process because the
people that live there and work there and
own property there are the ones who are
making the decisions,” Hjermstad said.
Some of the projects involved in the plan
ning efforts for die street are a new strip mall
located on the west side between S and T
streets and a new Walgreens on the north
west comer of 27th and Vine streets.
A new bridge will span 27th Street and
connect the MoPac bike trail from 33rd andX
streets into the University of Nebraska
Lincoln City Campus. The trail will be called
the Husker Link.
Deloris Lintel of the Clinton
Neighborhood Association said the revital
ization started in part because of concerns
over the public’s perception of the area.
“This area has a lot of strengths to it,”
lintel said. “We wanted to show foe general
public that this area is still a great place to live
at and visit,” she said.
Lintel, who also is a member of the New
27th Street Business and Civic Organization,
said the community cannot succeed in the
revitalization without the help of private
“I hope that private business continues to
come into the area and breathe new life into
our community,” she said.
Some of the projects already completed
are a new McDonalds near 27th and Vine
streets, new lights and signs along 27th Street
to provide visual unity along the corridor and
a new $1.5 million police station on 27th and
Perhaps one of the most important proj
ects underway is a new community center
being built next to the new police station.
The Northbridge Center for Children and
Youth will be built by Cedars Youth Services
Part of the center will be paid for by feder
al funding secured by U.S. Sen. Bob Kerrey
and a $40,000 donation from the McDonald’s
Jim Blue, Director of Cedars in Lincoln,
said it is important to have the youth center
in the North 27th Street area because of the
lack of resources in the area.
“If you look at the numbers in that census
track, it has the highest number of single
parent households in the city of Lincoln and
the second highest poverty rate in the city of
Lincoln,” Blue said.
Blue said that about 1,500 children live in
the area, but there are no licensed child care
centers, libraries, swimming pools or health
care facilities. He said there is also a lack of
Blue said one of the biggest priorities for
the center will be to establish professional
child care services and work with other
organizations to provide after-school pro
grams, health care, counseling and spiritual
“We like to refer to the project as a “com
munity center without walls," he said.
Construction on the 1,500 square'-foot
facility is scheduled to start in March. The
center could open its doors before the end of
Maj. Robert Boone of the Salvation Army
on 27th and Potter streets, which has been in
die area for more than 50 years, said he liked
the idea of having a community center, the
police station and the Salvation Army all on
die same block.
“We are thinking that this area is going to
be kind of a campus of activity,”
The police station will provide protec
tion, the community center will provide child
care and the Salvation Army will provide for
residents' physical and spiritual needs.
Mayor Don Wesley said the plan for the
revitalization was started to make the area
more attractive to businesses.
“That particular area was having some
trouble some time ago, and we wanted to
make a concerted effort to invest there as a
city and then spark private investment,”
Wesley also said the revitalization was
critical for Lincoln because of the street’s
He said the street is a north-south version
of O Street because of its high-traffic volume.
Wesely said the neighborhood “needed a
shot in the arm.”
The investment will help improve the
neighborhood, which is one of the older ones
in the city.
“The street gets better, the neighbor
hoods get better, and it all builds upward,”
Ask Someone Who Knows
for the Self-taught.
Sooner or later; students stumble across the
subject that lights their fire. And in no time
they’ve gone beyond the textbook.
When die subject is computers, these students are the ones who
stay up all night tinkering with the operating system they down
loaded or figuring out how to swap guitar riffs with someone in
They’re the ones who ask for O’Reilly books.
Six win back lives,
honored by LAP
■The Phoenix Award was given
to those who jumped on the
road to self-sufficiency.
BY SARAH FOX_ _
Dennis Thome returned from
die Navy in 1967 and married six
After a Med marriage, which
lasted three years, Thome ended
He lived in Minneapolis,
Nashville, Tenn., Miami, San
Francisco, Sioux Falls, S.D., and
Twenty-four years later,
Thome has an apartment, a job
and an award.
Thome and five other people
received the Phoenix Award on
Nov. 8 from the Lincoln Action
Program, a nonprofit human
service agency that is funded by
local and federal grants.
LAP gives the annual awards,
named for a mythical bird that
rose from its ashes, to people
who’ve made progress in becom
ing economically self-sufficient
An LAP board created the
award in 1989, and they choose
the winners each year.
"(The board) really saw peo
ple struggling to pull themselves
out of poverty andnotgettingalot
of credit” said administrative liai
son Deb Daily. She said LAP serves
2,500 to 3,000 people each yean
Many people decide to go for
help when they "get sick and tired
of being sick and tired,” said
Sheila Novotny, caseworker at
Day Watch on 1911R St This was
About a year ago, Thome, 55,
said he started thinking about get
ting a home.
“I stayed at a few people’s
houses, and I saw what they had,
and I just decided that I’d had
enough. I knew I was smart
enough,” he said.
Thome said he liked being
homeless because he could visit
many parts of the United States
and could always get help from
rescue missions or people he met
"You can get almost anything
free,” he said. "You can knock on
someone’s door, and they'll usual
ly let you in if you're not drunk.”
However, Thome said being
homeless is sometimes life threat
iheres a lot ot crazy people
out there, and some will kill you,”
he said. “There’s a lot of alcoholics
out there. Most of them are lonely
people, and they want someone
to drink with, but you can get
Thorne said he was never
physically hurt while he was
homeless because he learned to
be careful He said he learned to
identify “crazy” people by the way
they walked and looked at others.
He learned that homeless
people should hide their posses
sions in a “camp” instead of carry
ing them on the street, and they
should be alert when they return
to their camp.
"Before you get there, you
have to look around because
someone might want your sleep
ing bag,” he said.
Thome said he learned about
the Lincoln Action Program
through Day Watch, a non-profit
group that gives homeless people
free breakfasts, showers and laun
He got an apartment in
January 2000 through LAP and
works 20 hours a week at Day
Watch answering the phone, put
ting out snacks for people and
doing “whatever they ask me to
He’s paying back child sup
port on his 27-year-old daughter,
Daelynn, whom he hasn’t seen
since the 1970s.
“(The board) really
saw people struggling
to pull themselves out
of poverty and not
getting a lot of
Lincoln Action Program
Thome said he doesn’t really
regret not knowing his daughter
and has made Mends in Lincoln
to replace his daughter and family
in Sioux Falls. He said he chooses
people he knows as his sons and
daughters and was known as the
king of the street people.
Novotny, nominated him for the
award because she said he’d made
a lot of progress for someone his
age who'd been homeless for a
“He probably was one in my
caseloads that faced so many
odds,” she said. “It looked as if it
would be real difficult for him to
integrate into society at his age.”
Thorne said he was happy
with his new life and, especially,
“The last time I slept under a
bridge, I was slapping mosquitoes
all night,” he said. “I’ve got an
apartment, a job and a remote
control with 64 channels.”
Hie other five winners of the
Phoenix Award and the youth
■ Toni Douglas, who asked
that her story be kept confiden
tial. She works for Store Kraft
Manufacturing Co. in Beatrice
making cabinets for stores in
shopping malls. She and her fam
ily just moved into a Habitat for
Humanity home. She’s raising five
children, ages 5 to 17.
■ Kathy Garland, who was
able to leave a one-bedroom
apartment and move into a larger
one with her two young daughters
for whom she does not receive
child support She is trying to fin
ish her GED and works at the
Nebraska State Historical Society.
■ Dawn Noun, who is raising
two teen-agers as a single parent
She has battled depression and
was burned as a toddler, which
left her with scars and a disability.
She works full time with the
Nebraska Game and Parks at
Mahoney State Park.
■ Karen Straw has been free
from drugs for one year and lives
with her teen-age sons. She’s been
homeless and survived five years
of domestic abuse from a
boyfriend. She works at DaVinti’s
and volunteers at the Capital
Humane Society every Thursday
by walking dogs.
■ Carolyn Tankersley was
homeless for two years in Los
She came to Lincoln in
September 1998 when her sister
sent her a bus ticket to Nebraska.
She’s participating in counsel
ing and gets physical therapy for
fibromyaglia, a muscle disease
that won't allow her to walk for
The youth award winners are
Edwin Leon, 16 and Chris Leon,
They volunteer with LAP’S
Youth Violence Alternatives
Project painting over graffiti and
doing home repair for crime vic
The Leons’ parents divorced
when they were young, and the
boys often didn’t have much to eat
and had sporadic contact with
their father. Edwin Leon plans to
join the National Guard, and
Chris Leon wants to be a politi
cian or a social studies teacher
Union leaders edge
closer to agreement
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
NICE, France — European
Union leaders got caught in
Sunday in their quest for a treaty
to guide the bloc as it pushes its
boundaries eastward, beyond
the old Iron Curtain.
“We have a huge treaty that
we have to decide upon, page
after page, and that will take
tremendous time,” Swedish
Prime Minister Goeran Persson
said on an unscheduled fourth
day of talks.
But one official said the
leaders edged closer to agree
ment as the talks dragged on
into the night.
“The elements of an agree
ment are on the table,” said
Pierre Moscovici, France’s min
ister for European affairs.
Moscovici, who has played a
pivotal role in the talks, warned
a possible accord was still hang
ing in the balance as leaders
wrangled over how to share
power in an expanded Union.
“The whole thing is like a
house of cards, if you touch it
here or there, it all comes tum
bling down,” he told reporters.
The 15-nation EU has
agreed to accept up to a dozen
central, eastern and southern
European nations, with the first
newcomers possibly being
allowed in by 2004.
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