WISNER — The improvements this year at Wisner’s River Park are top dog — especially the latest, a new dog park.
The opening ceremony for the park — dedicated in memory of Jayda Marie Oligmueller — was held Thursday evening.
The park features separate, fenced-in sections for both large and small breeds with several park benches for their owners. A nearby post and beam pavilion has ADA accessible tables and drinking fountain for humans and animals alike.
Many donations to build the park were given in memory of the late Jayda Oligmueller, formerly of Pilger, and the late Dan Buderus, a longtime Wisner resident.
In addition to memorials and generation donations, funds also came from Gator Nation T-shirts sold by Macy Stuhr and Sarah VonSeggern.
Matching funds grant were given by the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resource District, including a second grant to place agility equipment for animals in the park. Benches were donated by Robert Wostoupal and Alicia Nebuda, both of West Point, and local contractors did site preparation.
The dog park is part of a larger park improvement project for two of the Wisner Parks: Central Park near the city’s auditorium, and River Park, located alongside the Elkhorn. Earlier improvements include new playground equipment at both parks. Other plans involve a walking trail and observation deck for watching bald eagles and other wildlife inhabiting the river area.
Carol and Dave Oligmueller of Pilger, whose major contribution kicked off fundraising for the dog park, are pleased to see the park go up. Their daughter, Jayda, died in a car accident in March 2017 just before her graduation from Wisner-Pilger Schools. They called her “the dog whisperer.”
Neighborhood dogs, known for their barking, jumped into Jayda’s lap and were calm, the Oligmuellers said. She loved animals and had a number of pets.
In fact, her miniature Australian shepherd was hit by a car on the Oligmuellers’ farm yard. It crawled to a heart-shaped memorial garden the Oligmuellers had built for Jayda. He died at the foot of a cross in the center.
“A lot of campers come to Wisner Park and walk their dog around,” Dave Oligmueller said. The owners will not only have a place for their pet to run unleashed, but also a shady spot to wait.
Terry Buderus of Wisner, whose son Dan was also memorialized at the park, described it as well.
“It’s beautiful,” she said, “and so nice for all the dogs.”
The entire park project was initially proposed by Wisner City Councilmen Chris Liermann and Steve Kumm in late 2016. They mentioned new playground equipment and trails, turned to city Administrator Al Vacanti and added, “Use your imagination.”
“Someone mentioned a dog park,” Vacanti said, and he invited representatives of the National Park Service to design a concept for the parks.
Altogether, the dog park is anticipated to cost around $35,000 to $40,000. Ninety percent of the total cost of park renovations at both Wisner Parks will be funded through donations and grants, Vacanti said.
Other major grantors include Nebraska Game and Parks, the Nielsen Foundation, the Louis and Abby Faye Dinklage Foundation and Peter Kiewit Foundation.
“It’s something to be excited about for a community of our size,” Vacanti said.