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New construction: Deeper, taller Tell North Platte what you think
Photo by George Lauby
Tom Benson studies plans for the college's new cafeteria.
Photo by Martin Owen
New staircase, arts center
Photo by George Lauby
Medical center crane: Tremendous reach
Photo by George Lauby
Keenan's new corporate offices, second floor
Photo by George Lauby
Entertainment pavilion, fairgrounds
Photo by George Lauby
New Adams Bank branch
Photo by George Lauby
North Park homes
Photo by George Lauby
First National Bank branch
Photo by George Lauby
Fenced grounds at Osgood Elementary
Photo by George Lauby
Nebraskaland National Bank

Workers are digging deep in some places and reaching upward in other places this summer in North Platte, as buildings go up and are renovated around town.

Workers recently dug deep and battled underground water to establish a foothold for a new elevator inside the 1913 Federal Building in downtown North Platte.

The historic four-level building is morphing into a Prairie Arts Center.

On the other end of the spectrum, at Great Plains Regional Medical Center a 180-foot-tall skyscraper crane reaches high, while a relatively smaller crane drills holes 50-feet deep for supports for the new five-story hospital.

Putting in new footings was quite a battle at the Prairie Arts Center, said Mark Lutrell, the president of Dowhower Construction, the company overseeing that project.

Workers dug seven feet below the basement of the historic building, where they “underpinned” the existing foundation with more concrete. The underpinned footings fortify the new elevator and a staircase nearby, providing first-class access to all four floors of the stately building.

As workers dug, they fortified the sides of the hole so it wouldn’t collapse, and they pumped out the underground water that seeped into the space.

The workers eventually won the battle. The new elevator and staircase is in working order.

That’s a big part of the first phase of restoration of the 100-year-old building. Currently, volunteers are finishing walls in the basement, where college workshops will be held in clean, well-lit surroundings. Art will be displayed on the first floor, with more work to be done on floors 2 and 3.

The hefty excavations at the art center were relatively minor, however, compared to those at Great Plains Regional Medical Center, where 600 separate pilings are being dug to support what will be the five-story building.

Sampson Construction Manager Troy Pfiefer said a big auger was used to drill each hole for the piling. The concrete is then pumped down through the center of the auger. As concrete fills the bottom of the hole, the auger comes up and out when the hole is filled.

Pfeifer said 550 of the 600 pilings were in place as of July 24. Overall, construction is on schedule.

The skyscraper crane will be used to erect the med center’s tower. It stands 180 feet tall and spans a radius of 242 feet. The crane can hoist parts and supplies from one side of the construction site to the other, from the ground to the top of the building. The crane is so big it took 14 semi-trucks to bring it to North Platte.

Each workday, operator Steve Zeisler climbs the long ladder to the operating cab at the top. It takes him 7-10 minutes, each way.

Once all the pilings are in place, anchor bolts will be installed in concrete caps at the top of the pilings, to which steel frames for the building will be fastened, Pfiefer said.


Over at the Oasis plaza near the I-80 and U.S. 83 interchange, a new two-story building is going up. When finished, Keenan company officials will be on the top floor, able to look out over the bustling intersection and the property they own there -- from the Comfort Inn on the east to the Quality Inn and Suites on the west.

The footings for Keenan’s new building are eight feet deep, nearly twice the depth of one-story houses, Lutrell said.

The new company headquarters will be above two retail shops below. One shop is heavily rumored to be a baked goods shop, but no official announcement will be made until early August under confidentiality agreements, owners say.

Also reaching deep and high is three-story Nebraskaland National Bank building, plus a basement, where above-ground work is now well underway.


There are many construction projects around town. Nearly $90 million in permits have been issued so far this year, a substantial sum, even though $80 million is for the medical center renovation.

General construction costs have increased sharply in the last couple years, fattening the total sum of North Platte building projects. The costs of supplies are coupled with and offset with record-low interest rates, keeping high-dollar projects affordable.

North Platte is growing up as well as out.

“We normally don’t see many multi-story buildings,” North Platte Building Inspector Dave Hahn said. “It’s making an interesting year.”

Busy workers

Dowhower construction is one of the busiest companies in North Platte. Dowhower crews are currently building Keenan’s new corporate headquarters at the Oasis plaza, plus a new cafeteria at North Platte Community College, plus a new branch office for Adams Bank and Trust, and they are overseeing renovation of the federal building downtown for the arts center.

Dowhower is also finishing a project in Dawson County -- the expansion of the Central Public Power and Irrigation District headquarters in Gothenburg.

And the company is about to start work on expanding the Synder central office building of the “state farm” – West Central Research and Extension Center.

Sizes, costs

Pat Keenan said Keenan’s new company headquarters and the shops below will have 6,932 square feet of floor space and come at an estimated cost of $925,000. It is expected to be finished before winter.

First National Bank’s new drive up branch at Dewey and Francis will consist of 5,500 square feet at a cost of $1.6 million. Steele Construction is the contractor. The foundation of the new First National Bank building is in place and work on the floor is underway.

North Platte Community College’s new student cafeteria will cover 6,900 square feet and cost $1.2 million. The cafeteria will connect with the existing student activity center that has a TV/recreation room as well as laundry facilities.

The floor and the utility lines of the cafeteria are in place and the walls are going up, senior construction superintendent Tom Benson said.

The college also plans to remodel older classrooms at both the north and south campuses. With the new health education building now in operation, classrooms that were formerly used to teach nurses and dental technicians will be remodeled into conventional classrooms and, in some places, better offices.

Adams Bank and Trust’s new branch is at 3221 S. Jeffers (US 83 and Walker Road). The $670,000 building will have 2,600 square feet. Interior sheetrock is going up and paving of the parking lot is slated to begin soon.

Other projects underway

Sioux Valley Farms – Owner Dave Pieper is building a new shop on Old Highway 83, about a mile south of State Farm Road, at a cost of $250,000.

Kohler Trailer Sales – The floor is poured for a new warehouse (9,600 square feet). Cost - $200,000.

Casey’s General Store – A new kitchen and cooler comprise an addition to store at Rodeo Road and Maple (576 sq. ft.) Cost - $350,000.

North Platte Dermatology – Dr. Mosul plans to open a dermatology clinic in an existing building at 2509 Halligan Dr. just south of Iron Eagle Golf Course. Cost of interior modifications, $250,000.

Lincoln County Fairgrounds – An entertainment pavilion near the rodeo arena was ready for the county fair, which ran July 24-29. The 40-foot by 80-foot pole building has a roof and heavy side curtains that can be drawn if necessary. It is fenced, so access can be limited when beer is served inside. Cost - $60,000.

North Park – New homes are being built on the west edge of town, near West Second and Lakeview. More than 30 homes have been built. Two are currently under construction. The residential housing project is by Dana Point Development of Turlock, Calif., a company that constructs affordable housing and is building in a handful of towns in Nebraska.

Osgood Elementary School – New fence was donated by Aero Fence and installed by Sampson Construction earlier this year around the playgrounds, to boost security. Cost - $15,000. Also, fundraising is also underway for new playground equipment, Principal Midge Mougey said. Parents and teachers note that the south side of town does not have a public park, so the playgrounds can be a family park as well as student playground. Osgood is also getting new front doors that will be locked at all times. Visitors will press a buzzer to be admitted, Mougey said.

Industrial Park – Four more storage units will be built at 2020 E. Philip, joining five that are already complete or under construction.

This report was first published in the July 24 print edition of the North Platte Bulletin.

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The North Platte Bulletin - Published 8/5/2013
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