Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Clarissa Bors Featured For Jr. Auxiliary Leadership

Clarissa Bors of Dorchester is the focal point in a feature story just published by the Friend Sentinel.

The DHS junior is profiled because on top of her busy schedule balancing school, student council and Longhorn athletics, she is also extremely active in the American Legion Junior Auxiliary.

“I feel it is important to be active in school and your community,” Bors told the Friend paper.  “I enjoy helping others and showing my pride for our country.” 

As a life-long member of the Junior Auxiliary, she has participated in many activities in support of the U.S., those in service and veterans -- including making favors for veterans, Poppy Day events, Flag Burning ceremonies, Memorial Day services and holiday programs.  Bors has held unit, district and state offices, and this past year she was the 2013-14 Nebraska Department President. 

Bors got involved with the Auxiliary with help of her grandparents, Robert and Marva Kasl. The duo have been actively involved in the Dorchester Post 264 Legion and Auxiliary for several years. 

This past August, Bors attended the Junior Auxiliary Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, where she held the office of Northwest Division Vice-President and was elected as National Historian. 

“I’m excited to continue supporting our country and the ability to share my knowledge about the American Legion Auxiliary organization,” she said.

Girls who are in school, grades K-12, and would like to be involved with the Junior Auxiliary should contact Clarissa for information on how to join. 

For those wives, mothers, daughters, sisters, grandmothers, granddaughters and descendants of veterans who served our great country during times of war, check out this website:

Dorchester Baseball Players Earn New Equipment

Last month, we reported that the Dorchester Little League Baseball program had raised $655 for new equipment in just one week as baseball players in grades 5 through 8 sold raffle tickets to the Nebraska vs. Illinois football game.  

The tickets were donated to the Dorchester baseball program by Pepsi-Cola Bottling of Lincoln.

This week, the Times received an e-mail detailing the equipment purchases that were made due to the fund raising efforts of the players.  The program has acquired:
  • A dozen "gently used" bats from Play-It-Again Sports for all three Dorchester baseball leagues (Pee-Wee, American, National);
  • Two dozen new game balls;
  • Three dozen practice balls;
  • A dozen new balls for the pitching machine;
  • A "bounce-back" for pitching practice;
  • Four new batting helmets;
  • Replacement headgear for catchers; and
  • New tape for the handles on some of the older bats.
We are also informed that the boys held fall baseball practices on Saturdays for five weeks in September and early October.

The information sent to the Times indicates that the baseball program is looking for new coaches for all three leagues for 2015.  Any interested candidates should contact the Dorchester Baseball/Softball Parents Committee by contacting committee members Tricia Novak, Toni Ladely, Megan Weber or Lisa Wells.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Funeral Services For Nathan Casteel Will Be Friday, 11 A.M.

Former Dorchester High School student Nathan J. Casteel, 26, Crete, died early Sunday, October 19, 2014. 

Funeral services will be tomorrow, Friday, at 11 a.m. at Kuncl Funeral Home in Crete.  

Per the Casteel family, there will be no visitation.

As reported by the Lincoln Journal Star, Casteel was killed early Sunday morning after an ATV accident northwest of Crete, authorities said.

Casteel was the only person on the ATV when it hit a utility pole just before midnight.

That information was released by Saline County Sheriff Alan Moore in a news release.

Emergency crews took Casteel to Crete Area Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

A Simple Reflection From Yesterday -- For Today

No breaking news.  No special feature.  Today's post is just a simple reflection from a member of a prominent Dorchester family who resided in our village quite some time ago.

We recently found this quote from former Dorchester resident George Kenney, who told the authors of the 1981 Centennial book this: 

"Growing up in the small town of Dorchester (in the 1930s) was a pleasant experience. We learned to have fun with what we had available and had respect of the rights of others. There was a strong tradition, especially in sports, of fair play and doing the best we could, win or lose. 

"It would be interesting to know if the tradition of doing one's best is still alive in Dorchester. To those of you that lived in Dorchester in the 1930s and early 1940s, thanks for establishing customs and mores that allowed my family and me to grow up and mature in a healthy environment."

Thank you, George, for reminding us what is really important.

Monday, October 20, 2014

'The Well' Celebrates One Year In Thompson Mansion

Anyone who has driven on west 10th Street over the past year has noticed the impressive restoration of one of Dorchester's most historic homes -- the old estate of Dorchester pioneer W.J. Thompson.  

The 3,000 sq. ft. home, built in 1901, sits on the corner of 10th and Lincoln Avenue and is an intriguing piece of Nebraska's past as it was the site of Dorchester's famous Elmwood Pony Farm.

The Thompson mansion is now home to Dorchester's newest business, The Well.

Co-owner Julie Holly says the businesses name is short for "wellness" -- and because her husband Joe drills water wells. 

Holly's goal for the Saline County community is wellness -- wellness through massage, eating healthy and exercise.  The Well, which opened about 11 months ago, has been visited by many healthy folk in our area, including the local Jolly Doer's Club.  

Word is spreading that this unique business is for those who are serious about living a healthier lifestyle.  The Well offers massages, essential oils, soaps and lotions, crafts -- even yoga class and learning sessions on essential oils.  The Well offers healthy snack items, fresh herbs grown at the Holly farm and herb plants started in the Holly green house. A faith-based weight loss group is also in the works.

"One day we  hope to have a bed and breakfast in the upper portion of the house," Holly said, noting that the renovation is ongoing so visitors are able to experience the house as it changes.  

Holly added, "Joe and I are trying to bring the house back to its early 1900's roots. ... Our hope is to share this house with the community. People are welcome to stop by whenever they see we are there. I post a sign at the door during massages so my clients are not disturbed."

Holly is currently in the process of getting the house on the National Register of Historic Places. 

Hours of operation are currently 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tues.-Thurs.; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays; and by appointment.  The hours are subject to change. 

The Well's phone number is 402-418-1838.  The Well has a Facebook page, too, where specials are posted.  If you would like to come for a tour, it is best to make arrangements ahead of time to ensure there is no conflict. 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Weekend Brings Big Wins For Football, Volleyball Teams

This weekend brought big wins for Dorchester student-athletes. 

On Friday evening, the Milford-Dorchester football team cruised to a convincing win in Class C1 football, beating Lincoln Lutheran 53-13.

The MHS-DHS squad took a commanding 20-6 lead in the first quarter and never looked back.  By halftime, it was 33-6.  At the end of the third quarter, it was 47-6.

The combined Eagles-Longhorns team are now 6-2 on the season and are No. 14 in the Nebraska School Activities Association power rankings.  They face top-10 ranked Wilber Clatonia on the road next week in the regular season finale. 

At York, at the Crossroads Conference volleyball tourney, the improving DHS Lady Longhorns showed some real determination, beating Class C2 Cross County in convincing fashion.  Then the Lady Longhorns gave Hampton, ranked No. 5 in the state, a serious scare.  

The DHS volleyball squad, now 7-17 on the season, will now take a week off to prepare for an Oct. 28 triangular at home.  

The Lady Longhorns hope to hit double digits in their season wins, as they still face Parkview Christian (1-16), Nebraska Christian (22-4), and Nebraska Lutheran (11-7).

OUR VIEW: Laura Ebke For Legislature

The Times rarely does political endorsements. We don't like when
newspapers in Omaha or Lincoln tell us how to vote -- why would we want to emulate them? 

We're making an exception today since races for Nebraska Legislature don't get much attention, even though our state -- with its unique one-house legislative branch -- gives a lot of power to 49 state senators who speak for us on important issues like taxes, school aid, criminal law and economic development.

After gathering much information, we're endorsing Laura Ebke of Crete for Legislature for many reasons:
  • Ebke demonstrates an overall better grasp on state issues.
  • Ebke has a conservative approach to government.
  • Ebke is better for our farmers, since her opponent has hinted he supports EPA efforts to stop so-called "man-made climate change."
  • Ebke wants to reduce Nebraska's total tax burden, including income and property taxes -- not just one piece of the puzzle.  
  • Ebke is an elected school board member and is better equipped to understand Nebraska's complex state-aid formula to schools.
Both Ms. Ebke and her opponent, Phil Hardenburger, are genuinely nice people who are running because they love Nebraska.  

But Ebke is a better study.  Her positions are more aligned with the majority of voters in our area.  

Mr. Hardenburger favors a big-government approach; he's too liberal to represent us in the Legislature -- especially considering left tilt of the Unicameral in recent years and its refusal to address Nebraska's high taxes or unwise policies like the "good time" law that allowed a killer to go free in Omaha.

According to our research, Hardenburger has supported allowing the state to go into debt to pay highway builders.  We find this very concerning, since state debt would mean higher taxes.

Also, Hardenburger is too closely tied to radical anti-energy activists who oppose the pipeline -- even though the original Keystone pipeline east of Dorchester has helped stabilize property taxes in our school district and provided new funding for schools across eastern Nebraska.  You don't have to be a politician to know a pipeline is safer for transporting oil compared to the trains currently running past our communities.

Mr. Haredenburger recently told a local gathering that humans are directly causing "global warming," according to a credible source who wrote down the comments.  Hardenburger told a crowd in Deshler that they "must be living in a vacuum" if they didn't subscribe to man-made global warming.  That talk might sit well with Al Gore, but it's extremist chatter here in Nebraska -- where those of us who aren't making six figures and who use electricity for heat are about to get punished with much higher electricity bills this winter due to the Obama administration's "war on coal."

Meanwhile, Ms. Ebke believes in limited government and wants lower taxes for all Nebraskans.  She wants more job growth in rural Nebraska.  She believes schools must do a better job educating our kids, and that parents are directly responsible for raising their own kids. This used to be called "common sense."

That's why Laura Ebke will make a good state senator.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Dorchester Jr. High Presents 'Ha-Ha House' This Thursday

Prepared to be entertained.

The Dorchester Junior High will present its fall play this Thursday, Oct. 23, at 7 p.m. at the school.

Come watch the Longhorn students in "Ha-Ha House" -- which takes the scary fun of a haunted house and transforms it into a play.

Here's a sneak preview of the play:  Brewster Havershome goes bananas when his wife dies and he's hauled off to the loony bin (Can we say that in this politically correct world?) as he laughs insanely.  Authorities say he killed her himself.  So naturally, four teenage girls are petrified when they stumble into the "Ha-Ha House" in search of a phone (We don't know why none of them had a smart phone in 2014, but we'll play along...).

When the more-than-creepy butler introduces them to the cook, who is dismembering something -- or possibly someone -- for dinner, a comedy-of-terror takes hold.  A floating head, a lost treasure and two young men to the rescue!  

The suspense kicks into high gear when Brewster Havershome escapes from the asylum, looking for his dead wife and his long lost treasure and wielding a cleaver.

Come be part of the fun Thursday evening!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Show Your Hometown Pride; Give To The Dorchester Foundation Today!

Several years ago, a few energetic, forward-looking residents of our community thought Dorchester could use a little boost.  They established a non-profit affiliated fund of the Nebraska Community Foundation -- and ever since, the Dorchester Community Foundation has been a force for positive change.  

Today, we are asking readers to donate to the Foundation -- to give back to the community that has provided so many great memories and a great way of life.

The Dorchester Community Foundation has been instrumental in various projects since 2007.  These include:
  • The city park's new playground equipment and picnic shelter; 
  • Annual scholarships; 
  • The Charlie Havlat Memorial at the Saline County Museum; 
  • The new welcome sign along Highway 33.
The latest project from the Foundation is to place banners or welcome signs along the light poles of Washington Ave. -- Dorchester's main drive.  Many of the citizens we have spoken with say this is the Foundation's best project yet and will improve the village's business district.  

Today, we are asking Times readers -- whether you are an area resident, Dorchester alumni, or just a friend of the community -- to make a pledge to the Dorchester Community Foundation so it may continue to make needed improvements throughout our village.

Contributions to the Foundation are deductible for income and estate tax purposes.  

Whether it's a donation of $25, $50, $100 or more, your generosity will help keep momentum going in Dorchester.

Click here to donate to Dorchester online.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Looking Back: The Naming Of Dorchester

The origin of Dorchester’s name has long been a topic of debate in our community. Today, the Times looks back on how Dorchester got its name.

According to the Dorchester centennial history book, published in 1981, the railroads formed land companies soon after the government gave away “every other section of land for ten miles on each side of any track laid.”  In December 1870, the South Platte Land Co. received ownership of the section containing present-day Dorchester after the company erected one house in the center of the section -- a step taken to “improve” the land in order to comply with the federal Homestead Act.

The section was originally platted under the name "DeWitt," but that was changed shortly thereafter by an entry in the margin of the land company’s deed book, which noted that the name of the section was indeed Dorchester.

There are varied accounts of where the name "Dorchester" came from. A staff member of the Times reports her great grandmother once recounted a story that our village was named after a town in southwest England.  But a March 1967 account in The Crete News stated that Thomas Doane, the chief engineer with Burlington Railroad, named it after Boston's largest neighborhood in his native Massachusetts. "The name continued the alphabetical naming of towns along the new railroad line: Berks, Crete, Dorchester, Exeter, Fairmont, Grafton, Harvard, Inland, etc.”

Another account mentioned in the centennial book came from William Ferguson of Chicago, who said that C.E. Perkins, president of Burlington Railroad, and his wife named Dorchester and other railroad communities from their parlor in Burlington, Iowa. Mrs. Perkins was a native of the Boston area and she chose the name Dorchester for our town, according to Ferguson's explanation.

The mystery remains since the stories above are mired in controversy. It seems neither Doane nor the Perkins family had much to do with establishing the other towns along the current Burlington tracks that came to Dorchester in 1871 and runs through our community today.

If you have historical information on the naming of Dorchester, please share it with fellow readers by leaving a comment or e-mailing us at

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

DHS Wins One, Loses One At Home

While this season hasn't brought as much success as DHS volleyball players, coaches and fans were hoping for when school started, the young Lady Longhorns continue to improve.

DHS' record moved to 6-16 last night following another triangular tourney at home.  

While Bruning-Davenport/Shickley (10-10) defeated Dorchester, 25-15, 25-14, the Lady Longhorns managed to knock off McCool Junction (1-21) in a decisive victory, 25-14, 25-13.

The DHS girls now prepare for the important Crossroads Conference Tournament at York.  

The CRC tourney will take place from Saturday through next Tuesday at the York Auditorium.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Working With Students Is Best Plan For Rejuvenating Dorchester

We've heard it for years, for decades.  Dorchester has lost too many businesses, too many
young people.

Of course, Dorchester isn't the only community in Nebraska experiencing so-called "out-migration" and the loss of businesses over the decades.  An overwhelming majority of Nebraska's 570 communities have experienced the same thing to a lesser or greater degree, depending on their location.

Fortunately, the situation for many communities has begun to turn around.  And it's happening because leaders and educators in Nebraska's rural communities are focusing on the next generation.

According to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Extension, research shows that if by age 10 or 11 a child has had a positive experience in his/her community, that child is more likely to stay or return to his/her hometown.  This is further proof why young people -- not just high schoolers and middle schoolers, but also grade schoolers -- must be encouraged to be a part of community's affairs and future planning.

It's time to get serious; it's time to think outside the box.

We're not sure how many Dorchester teachers or school officials read this blog.  But for those who do, we'd like to point out the success experienced in Ord, Neb. and Valley County.  

About 10 years ago, when Ord started recognizing lasting effects of population loss from the 1990s, leaders got together and agreed that one of the best ways to revitalize the county would be to connect students to the local business community early on.  With a focus on entrepreneurship and a commitment to its youth, one of the most successful ways Valley County illustrates this economic revival is through the annual Entrepreneurship Investigation (ESI) Camp.  With curriculum developed by UNL and Nebraska 4-H, ESI Camp hosts 20-25 students from Valley County and surrounding communities. 

Don't think it can work? Valley County was the only rural Nebraska county that had experienced growth in the 25 and under population, according to the 2010 census.

An entrepreneurship camp for grade schoolers. What a great idea -- and one way Dorchester could rejuvenate its own business district.  After all, kids come up with some of the most creative ideas.  Their optimism and energy run circles around most adults over 30.

Watch how Valley County has rallied to engage its students by clicking here.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Don't Forget The Value Of Livestock

Sure, it's harvest time and there is a lot of cash in those corn fields and soybean acres.  
But let's not forget how much economic strength lies in the surrounding feedyard and livestock lots.

Last week, a group of three dozen young livestock producers from across southern and central Iowa embarked on a two day bus trip to Nebraska sponsored by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach’s Beginning and Young Livestock Producers Network.

One of the group's first stops was Dorchester's Weber Feedyards.  When groups from outside our state travel here to inspect our local livestock facilities, that's a positive sign that producers in our area are doing something right.

According to a new UNL report, "Nebraska's uniquely intertwined agricultural economy, although still the engine of the state's economy, may not be operating to its full potential."

Saline County has nearly 26,000 head of cattle and more than 28,000 hogs. And we hope that number only grows -- for the sake of our farming community.  

Ethanol was booming ten years ago. Today, we know ethanol is not nearly as promising due to production efficiency and consumer preferences for regular gasoline.  Feeding domestic livestock is still the most profitable sector for our area farmers.  

Even the Nebraska Corn Board, when it isn't busy airing ethanol commercials, admits that "livestock production is the engine that powers state’s economy. It is a more than $7.5 billion industry that is fundamental to the well-being of Nebraska – and contributes in some way to the financial health of every Nebraskan."  

Saline County has been designated one of Nebraska's "livestock friendly counties."  We need to encourage more livestock producers to expand or relocate in our surrounding countryside.  If they did, our schools would see a boost in students and revenue; area businesses benefit; and any resident who pays property taxes would realize some relief in the pocketbook.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Dorchester's Family Ties To The AL Baseball Championship

Dorchester has strong family ties to this year's Major League championship series in the American League between the Baltimore Orioles and the Kansas City Royals.

One of the star pitchers for the Orioles, Kevin Gausman, traces his family roots back to Dorchester.  His grandfather, Clarence, and father, Clair, were both athletes at Dorchester; it's only fitting that Kevin is wearing the mighty Orange and Black in the Major Leagues.

Those who knew Kevin's dad, Clair, during his days at Dorchester can tell you he was serious on the field, too.  A 1969 DHS graduate, and known by his Longhorn teammates as "Gomez," Clair was a key part of the 7-1 football team in 1968.  He was all-conference for the 18-4 DHS basketball team in 1969, helping to ensure the squad finished No. 6 in the state his senior year.

Clair would go on to graduate from Nebraska Wesleyan University, and earn graduate degrees from the University of Northern Colorado and the University of Denver. Clair served as president of the Colorado Football Officials Association and the Colorado Chapter of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame. Many Dorchester residents know Clair made the big time by officiating Division I college football for 25 years -- working in the Western Athletic Conference, Mountain West Conference, Big 12 Conference and Conference USA. He was selected to referee 14 bowl games. 

Today, Clair is a retired educator with the Cherry Creek, Colo., School District and is now owner of Windmark Centennial Insurance. Clair and his wife Jo live in Centennial, Colo. 

They have three grown children, including Kevin, 23, who is on the mound for the Orioles. 

Kevin attended Louisiana State University (LSU), where he was an All-American.  He was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in the first round in 2012 -- fourth overall draft. He signed with the Orioles for $4.32 million on July 13, 2012.  Kevin throws four pitches, all with above average velocity: a four seam fastball at 96-99 MPH (tops out at 100), a slider at 83-86, a splitter at 84-86 and a change up at 84-89, according to Wikipedia.

Kevin and the Orioles will be fighting to keep their season alive, trailing the Royal 0-2 in the ALCS.  The teams will battle Monday evening at 7 p.m. in K.C.

Thanks to two loyal readers for suggesting this news story.

Looking Back: Dorchester Businesses In The Post-WWII War Years

Seven decades have passed since World War II.  Today we look back at the post-war economic boom that changed America's economy for the remainder of the century and dramatically altered life in Dorchester and other rural communities.


Dorchester businesses, like most others in the U.S., was booming in the mid-20th century.  During the war years and throughout the economic surge that followed in the 1950s, Dorchester's businesses community included a telephone company, three newspapers, three beauty salons, one bank, a drug store, three grocery stores, one dry goods store, two barbers, five produce stations, four garages, three restaurants, a bowling alley, a carpenter, a construction firm, three ag implements stores, an insurance agent, a mason, a meat market, two mortuaries, a plumbing and heating repair business, five taverns, a veterinarian, a hardware store, one lumber yard, and the Dorchester Farmers Cooperative.  Dorchester even supported an investment firm, Guggenmos' Citizens Investment Co., which was housed in the old telephone company building (pictured below as it appeared in the mid-1950s.)


The economic boom that followed WWII impacted every community in the United States, bringing a period of greater prosperity than any time before -- even to Dorchester.  The 1950s ushered in new industries that supplied Americans with cutting-edge technology, plastics, TVs, frozen foods, automatic home appliances, and improved automobiles.  

In 1952, for example, more than 250 dial telephones were installed in Dorchester and the surrounding area. Dorchester's mayor at the time, Miles Pospisil, made the first long-distance phone call to K.L. Lawson, general commercial superintendent of the Lincoln Telephone and Telegraph Co. in Lincoln.


But the 1950s also brought the end of an era to Dorchester and many other small communities across the country.  Because of improved and more reliable automobiles, Dorchester lost many of its professional service providers during the '50s, including all of its doctors, dentists and lawyers.  A search committee was assembled to find a doctor for Dorchester.  The bank donated an office with a five-year lease providing free rent.  Money was donated by citizens and businesses to remodel the office -- and many people volunteered their time to help.  Dr. Avis Bray was recruited, but she was in town for only a short period after receiving more lucrative offers in larger communities.

By the mid-1960s, Dorchester had realized a dramatic downsizing of its business community.  Even so, it still claimed two grocery stores, the bank, two beauty salons, two garages, three taverns, one mortuary, one produce station, a laundromat, a meat market, a variety store, the lumber yard, a drug store, a ceramic shop, two construction firms, a welder and repair shop, a plumbing and heating repair shop, one restaurant and the Farmers Co-op, of course.

But a new, long-term course had been set.  More area residents were doing commerce in larger nearby communities.  More of Dorchester's young people left for college or jobs in the city.  While the post-war years brought more material wealth to Dorchester, they certainly presented new challenges that persist today.

Today, the Times asks our area residents -- including those who are under 18 years old -- how they would improve Dorchester's business district so that it becomes more viable, as it was in the immediate post WWII years.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

DVFD Pork Roast Set For Tomorrow, Oct. 12

Get ready Dorchester area residents!

It's time for the annual hog roast hosted by the Dorchester Volunteer Fire Department. 

This event is a fall favorite in our community.

The roast will be held tomorrow, Sunday, Oct. 12, at the Dorchester Fire Hall.  The event will take place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Help our volunteer first responders raise funds to update the DVFD.  All donations will go toward the purchase of an equipment/water truck.

Please join our brave men and women with the DVFD for a great gathering and a great cause.

Or send your donation to:  DVFD, P.O. Box 36, Dorchester, NE  68343.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Flu Shots Available In Dorchester, Nov. 13 At Church

Plan now to get your flu shots in Dorchester.

On Nov. 13, the Crete Area Medical Center staff will be at the Dorchester Methodist Church from 5:30-7 p.m. to provide flu shots for residents.

If you don't want to wait until Nov. 13, you can schedule a flu shot, as well as a preventative health screening at the Crete Area Medical Center.  Just call (402) 826-7980 for an appointment.

Stay healthy and stay happy.

DHS Homecoming Royalty Crowned, But Longhorns Lose Both VB Games

Last night, Dorchester's homecoming royalty was crowned, as students report having a great time.  

However, the DHS Lady Longhorns fell in both of their homecoming contests, putting a bit of a downer on the evening.

The Lady Longhorns drop to 5-15 on the season.

In the homecoming triangular, Dorchester fell to Class C-2 Cross County, 25-15, 25-20, and lost to Class D-2 powerhouse Exeter-Milligan, 25-18, 25-17.

DHS will get a four-day break before returning to action early next week.

On Tuesday, the Lady Longhorns will host yet another triangular tournament at home, this time against Bruning-Davenport-Shickley (8-10) and McCool Junction (1-19).

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Dorchester Soon To Be A Quiet Zone For Trains?

The Times has learned that village leaders have given initial approval to a study that could silence the train horns echoing through Dorchester -- a problem that has worsened in recent years as the Farmers Cooperative has expanded its grain storage capacity.

In July, the Times reported on the blockades occurring regularly at the town's railroad crossings due to stopped train cars, as well as efforts by other communities to quiet trains as they approach crossings.

According to an e-mail sent to the Times, a resident who attended Monday's Dorchester Village Board meeting asked the board to consider imposing a quiet zone for both railroad crossings entering town.  

The resident told the board that Hickman and south Lincoln had created quiet zones, thereby improving the quality of life for residents there.  The resident reportedly complained that his grandchildren were extremely disturbed by the loud horns, and noted that some train conductors blow the horn the entire length of the community, despite moving at a very slow speed.

The e-mail sent to the Times informs us that the town board members who were present agreed to consider a study by an engineering firm to look at the feasibility of making Dorchester a "no horn zone."

The e-mail also notes board members were informed by attorneys that there are many factors to be considered before being designated a no-horn area, such as installing concrete medians at the railroad crossings.

Board members were also told that a study for a quiet zone can be quite expensive.  Our source did not indicate whether or not the Farmers Cooperative may contribute to the cost of the study.

According to the Times' research, Lincoln has four designated quiet zones, which include twelve crossings along the BNSF railroad.

The City of Lincoln's website says a quiet zone is a minimum one-half mile long railroad corridor containing one or more public roadway crossings where train horns are not routinely sounded. All crossings must have flashing lights, gates, and constant warning before a quiet zone can be established. Train horns may still be sounded in the case of an equipment malfunction or if a person or vehicle is near the tracks.

While the railroad is the reason that Dorchester exists today, the Times continues to believe making Dorchester a quiet zone would improve our community's quality of life.  After all, the co-op's expansion over the past decade -- while a positive for Dorchester and its tax base -- is a large reason for the increased duration and frequency of horns sounding at all hours of the night.  A quite zone seems like it would be a "win-win" and a common-sense compromise to a tough situation. 

A big "thumbs up" to the resident(s) who took time to attend the village board meeting this week.  (Our staff members all agree we should have thought of that.)

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

DHS Homecoming Volleyball Contests To Be Streamed Live

The Times has learned that Thursday evening's homecoming volleyball games at Dorchester High School will be streamed live on a website called High School Cube.

Click here to go to the site.

The 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. games at the DHS gym will feature the Lady Longhorns against Nebraska Christian and Parkview Christian.

On Tuesday, the Lady Longhorns captured their fifth victory of the season by beating Parkview Christian 25-2, 25-8, 25-7.

We wish the girls best of luck on homecoming!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Tight Lending Practices Hinder Dorchester Economic Devleopment

You recall Ben Bernanke? The former Federal Reserve chairman? The guy who was in charge of America's entire money supply?

This week, Bernanke told an audience the mortgage market is so tight that even he is having a hard time refinancing his own home loan.  Bloomberg reports that when the audience laughed, Bernanke said, “I’m not making that up. ... I think it’s entirely possible” that lenders “may have gone a little bit too far on mortgage credit conditions."

We relay this story for one reason: the tight lending market is hindering economic development efforts here in Dorchester, it appears.

In recent months, the Times reported on plans to bring a cafe and bakery to Dorchester, as well as a serious attempt to build a bowling alley north of the current location of City Slickers Bar and Grill.

Both reports were accurate, but both have also hit a roadblock when it comes to financing, according to sources. (Note: Neither party was asked for comments by the Times.)

Since the banking crisis of 2008, banks and credit unions have become much more hesitant to lend to any home or business that presents even a small amount of risk.  Record low interest rates don't help, since there's a considerably smaller amount of reward for lenders to do business with borrowers without significant resources.  We can't say we blame the lenders for not wanting to stick their necks out.

This leads us to questions asked in a previous post:
  • What is the long-term plan to repair Dorchester's downtown structures? 
  • How do we encourage private owners to make the necessary improvements? 
  • Does Dorchester need a "building improvement fund" to match the efforts of business owners? 
Maybe the time has come for village leaders -- perhaps the good volunteers at the Dorchester Community Foundation -- to consider establishing a fund to help match the financial efforts of area businesses and entrepreneurs who want to do business in our town. Perhaps create a no-interest or low-interest loan program?

It's worth exploring.

Community Development Workshop Set For Oct. 16 In Kearney

The Dorchester Times has learned about a workshop that includes powerful information to build hope and develop a plan for rural Nebraska communities.

The workshop literature states: "If your community members are interested in creating jobs, sustaining your community’s population, and inspiring others to relocate to your hometown, we have the perfect opportunity for you.  We invite all city council/village board members, chamber/community club members, economic development professionals, as well as the 'movers and shakers' from regional communities to our upcoming event, where we ask you to 'Breathe Life into Your Town.'

"Come learn from Dell Gines, Senior Community Development Advisor, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City-Omaha Branch, as he provides the how-to’s for expanding existing businesses and developing new businesses, and discusses the vital role that community partnerships play in this effort.  Nicole Sedlacek, Director, Holt County Economic Development, will inspire you, with relevant and real world success stories from Holt County, ranging from growing new businesses to bringing young families back to rural Nebraska.

"There is no town too small to benefit from this workshop!  Register today!  The workshop will be held Thursday, Oct. 16 at the Kearney Ramada, 301 2nd Avenue, from 5:30 p.m. until 9 p.m. Cost: $25 per person, dinner included.  To register, e-mail or call (308) 995.3190 by Friday, Oct. 10."

Monday, October 6, 2014

Classic Older Home Available Now In Dorchester

Dorchester is a great town and it's getting noticed for all the right reasons. Just consider what Dorchester has to offer:
  • A new K-12 school.
  • A peaceful and safe community.
  • A new water tower and upgraded sewer system.
  • The lowest school tax levy in the county.
  • Affordable cost of living.
  • One of the largest agri-businesses (Farmers Cooperative) in the state.
  • Good people for neighbors.
  • A 10-minute drive from many employers in Crete and Seward. And only 30 minutes to jobs in Lincoln. Located next to two highways and minutes from Interstate 80.
However, one challenge facing Dorchester is housing.  We've heard from many readers who've said they would like to move to Dorchester, if only homes were available.

Today, we showcase the latest Dorchester home available right now.  If you're ready to call Dorchester home, we encourage you to take a look.

609 Franklin Ave.:  If you like small town living and classic, WWII-era homes, this is the house for you.  Much larger than it looks! More than 1,600 sq. ft. Has four bedrooms and nice updates, including newly remodeled bathroom, brand new a/c, interior paint, new roof and will soon have new siding. Has partially finished basement for added living space. This is ready to move into and has a two-stall detached garage. $74,000. Click here for more information.

Photos Of Homecomings Past On Our Facebook Page

This is Dorchester High School's homecoming week!

The week was kicked off yesterday (Sunday) with a late afternoon pep rally at the Dorchester School, followed by a pancake feed in the school cafeteria. 

On Thursday, Oct. 9, the DHS volleyball team will host 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. games against Nebraska Christian and Parkview Christian, which will serve as the school's homecoming contests. 

The DHS-Milford football game will be at Raymond Central on Friday, Oct. 10.

To celebrate this special week, stay tuned to the Dorchester Times' Facebook page (click here) as we share images of Dorchester homecomings from bygone years.  

Some pictures will be a little more "historic" than others -- but one thing is for sure: All will capture the great times and wonderful memories of homecoming week in Dorchester. 

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Sunday Will Kick Off DHS Homecoming Events

With no football team playing at Nerud Field this season, Thursday, Oct. 9, has been designated at DHS' homecoming.

Dorchester's homecoming week will begin tomorrow, Sunday, with 5 p.m. pep rally at the Dorchester School.  

A pancake feed in the school cafeteria will follow from 5:30 p.m. until 7:00 p.m.  Pancakes, sausage, scrambled eggs and juice will be served.  

Dorchester's Farmers Cooperative has generously donated the pancake mix, plates and eating utensils.

On Thursday, the DHS volleyball team will host 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. games against Nebraska Christian and Parkview Christian, which will serve as the school's homecoming contests.

The DHS-Milford football game will be at Raymond Central on Friday, Oct. 10.

MHS-DHS Beats Lincoln Christian, 26-18

In a chilly early October contest in Milford Friday night, Milford-Dorchester opened up a first half lead against a solid Lincoln Christian squad and never looked back.  The combined Eagle-Longhorn squad beat the Crusaders 26-18.

Christian did score first in the opening quarter, but MHS-DHS answered relatively quickly with a 46-yard run.  The Crusaders recaptured the lead in the second quarter, only to find themselves trailing following a long march by MHS-DHS that was capped off by the first extra point of the contest.  

MHS-DHS added another TD and point-after, increasing their lead 20-12 at halftime.  Things got a little tight in the third quarter as the score narrowed to 20-18, but a TD run by DHS-MHS' Havlat ensured a 26-18 victory.

The Milford-Dorchester squad is now 4-2 on the season.  This coming Friday, they will travel to Raymond Central in a 7 p.m. contest, followed by a game in Milford against Lincoln Lutheran on Oct. 17.

DPS Students Demonstrate Academic Skills On Assessment Tests

In recent years, some have criticized statewide and national assessment tests given to
measure the performance of our public schools.  We have never understood this fear of what amounts to a measuring stick to ensure that taxpayers are getting their money's worth -- and that our kids are actually learning in the classroom.

Fortunately, results from Nebraska's most recent student achievement test indicate Dorchester Public School students and faculty are focused on learning and on outperforming their peers.
  • According to information from DPS administration, since 2009, Dorchester students have shown an increase in the percentage of students who've demonstrated proficiency on the statewide reading assessment, up from 68% to 83%.  
  • Since 2010, DPS student proficiency in math has grown from 74% to 77%, while proficiency in science has average 80%.
  • Dorchester's current ACT test scores (used for college admittance) show DHS students have outperformed their Nebraska peers for each subject category on the ACT assessment.  The average composite score for Dorchester last school year was 24.2; compare this to the state average of 21.7.
That's real progress being made in the classrooms of DPS -- even though let's not forget Dorchester has traditionally outperformed many area schools.  Congratulations, Longhorn students and teachers.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Leonard Bartek Passes At 69

Leonard J. Bartek, age 69, of Dorchester passed away on Monday, September 29, 2014. He was born on March 2, 1945 in Staplehurst, Neb. to Jerry and Georgia (Dvorak) Bartek. Leonard joined the U.S. Air Force in September, 1965 and served until February, 1969. He was married to Teresa (Vargo) Bartek on July 11, 1970.

He was preceded in death by father Jerry, mother Georgia, step-mother Bessie, brothers Valerian and Albert, sister Angela Lucas, and step-sister Pauline Nannen.

He is survived by wife Teresa, son Mark, brothers Gerald and Benedict, half-sister Marlene, step-sisters Wilma Chrastil and Evelyn Kasl, step-brother Art Pracheil, and many nieces and nephews.

Memorial Services are Friday, 3 pm, Kuncl Funeral Home, Crete. Cremation; no visitation.

Dorchester Area Receives Up To 5" In 24 Hours

Since yesterday morning, Dorchester has received more than 3.5 inches of rain in gauges in town.  

That's considerably less than the totals reported in parts of Crete and Lincoln, but it's still a sizable amount of precipitation for the end of September.  

Area corn and soybean fields will be wet for days to come.  More rain is possible today and Thursday.

Since Aug. 28 -- just 35 days -- Dorchester and the surrounding area have received around 8.5" to 9" of rain.  

Parts of Lincoln 9 inches of rain in parts of Lincoln.  In Crete, rainfalls topped 6 inches.

Unofficial rainfall totals reported to the National Weather Service included 8.9 inches at the Lincoln wastewater treatment plant, 8.5 inches near West O and 20th streets, and 7.2 inches near 56th and Holdrege streets, according to the Journal Star.  (The LJS photo above is from Holmes Lake in Lincoln.)

Flood warnings are up for several creeks and rivers, including the Big Blue River and Turkey Creek.

Here are the area rainfall totals since Tuesday morning:

Crete (in town) ................................ 6.42"
Dorchester -- 4.5 miles SSE ............ 5.00"
Wilber -- 4.1 W ............................... 4.85"
Western -- 4.4 NNE ........................ 4.40"
Wilber -- 7.0 WSW ......................... 4.31"
Western -- 1.2 SE .......................... . 3.56"
Tobias -- 1.8 E ................................ 3.30"
Dorchester -- 2.1 NW ..................... 3.10"
Friend -- 3.4 E ................................ 2.72"
Friend -- 4.8 SSE ............................ 2.69"
DeWitt -- 0.3 WNW ....................... 1.52"

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Crisis: Nearly 1 in 3 Saline Co. Residents Are Obese

A new report says Nebraska had the nation's 23rd highest adult obesity rate in 2013. 

That's according to the Associated Press, which reports the Trust for America's Health and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that 29.6% of adults in Nebraska were obese last year.  

This is nearly a 2% jump from the previous year.

Nebraska's obesity rate was higher than in Colorado and Wyoming but lower than its neighboring states of Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and South Dakota.

The Dorchester Times did its own research and found Saline County is a bit heavier than the average Nebraska county. 

More than 31% of Saline County residents -- nearly one in every three -- are obese, according to health data.  

The definition of obese is "the condition of being grossly fat or overweight."  The medical definition is having a body mass index (fat to muscle ratio) in excess of 30.

Meanwhile, obesity rates have tripled nationwide since 1980.  The age group where the rates are growing the fastest? Children.

Parents take the blame for this, but our society on the whole is the problem. Kids lack the ability to buy and choose their own food. They’re at the mercy of what the rest of us give them.  One of the biggest causes in our bad nutrition is that we’re reluctant to eat at home, opting instead for fatty, high-carbohydrate fast food, sodas and convenience food (such as cereals, so-called 'nutrition bars', and the like).

In 2009, almost 50% of our food spending was made on fast food or other food not cooked at home.   When we do eat at home, it's typically lots of starches, breads and processed foods -- which pack on the pounds.  It's actually rare to see families dine around the table nowadays, sharing lean meat, cooked veggies and fruits, and a glass of skim milk.

We hope Dorchester parents (and teens who are old enough to know better) are making wiser choices.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Lady Longhorns Enter Exhausting Part Of Schedule

It has been a busy week for the Lady Longhorns volleyball team, also known as the "Orange and Black Attack."  The team now sports a record of 4-10, but half of those losses have been to Class C2 or D1 teams.

The young DHS squad started last week by beating the Osceola Lady Bulldogs in Dorchester, where team members celebrated Parents Night.

Last Thursday, the Lady Longhorns dropped contests to High Plains Community and Shelby/Rising City at the Shelby triangular tournament.

On Saturday, DHS picked up another win against Parkview Christian, but lost games to Lawrence-Nelson and Nebraska Lutheran, who will take on Dorchester again in the final regular season game.

The Lady Longhorns are back in action tomorrow, Sept. 30, against a 1-10 Sterling team. On Thursday, Oct. 2, DHS will be part of a triangular event at Diller-Odell.

Looking Back: Thompson Pony Farm & Rodeo

Today we look back at one of the most intriguing pieces of Dorchester's past: the Thompson Rodeo and Elmwood Pony Farm. (In fact, if we reversed the calendar 100 years, chances are you'd be at the Thompson Rodeo right now, in late September.)

Owned and operated by Colonel W.J. Thompson, the Elmwood Pony Farm was located in the northeast part of Dorchester. The farm sat on present day 10th Street, between Lincoln and Fulton Avenues.

Dating back to the 1890s, the Elmwood Pony Farm was one of the largest pony farms west of the Mississippi River. By the 1920s, the pony farm was home to more than 300 ponies.  

Thompson's pony farm was a popular destination for children from miles around, according to accounts of longtime residents. Children who lived in the country were even permitted to take home a pony and ride it all summer, if they agreed to keep it fed well.

Each September, Colonel Thompson took as many as 35 Shetland ponies to the Nebraska State Fair for rides. He entered many more of the animals in the fair's show contests. All of the ponies were herded overland from Dorchester to Lincoln by Thompson farm employees.

In 1930, Colonel Thompson's son, Wallace, started the Thompson Rodeo. It was usually a three-day event held each fall, complete with fighting broncos, cowboys, clowns, trick riders, cowgirls, bull doggers, concessions, rides, dancing and "whoopee."  (Pictured at the top of the story is an original banner from the Thompson Rodeo.  The banner is now hanging in the Saline County Museum.)

The Dorchester rodeo attracted many top riders from around the country, as well as local talent. An Oklahoma rider even came within 0.7 seconds of the world's record in calf roping at the Dorchester Rodeo.

At one time, more than 7,000 spectators were reported in attendance at the Dorchester Rodeo. Many people had high hopes that Dorchester would become a permanent rodeo on the famous circuit that included Cheyenne Frontier Days, as well as the Burwell and Sidney rodeos. But by 1940, the rodeo hit a spell of heavy rain and events were cancelled.

By 1942, the country was fighting WWII and the Thompson Rodeo closed its doors permanently, becoming another relic of our community history.

(This is a reprint of a Times article that was published originally in August 2007.)