Thursday, August 21, 2014

Looking Back: Freshman Initiation At DHS

To any high school freshman who may be reading this, you might think you have it a little rough right now.  After all, new routines, new classes, a faster pace of life, and those mean upperclassmen.  

A freshman's life can be tough!

But here's a look back in time to remind you and your contemporaries that you don't have it so bad -- not compared to the Dorchester High School freshmen who came before you decades ago.

We searched through the old yearbooks and found this excerpt written by the DHS Class of 1947.  Read it with a smile on your face.

DHS Freshman Initiation

When we, the seniors of 1947, were mere freshmen, we were subjected to the trickery and pranks of the seniors of 1943 in the form of Freshman Initiation.  After preparing us for weeks in advance by telling us weird tales of the fate that awaited us on our initiation, the seniors finally announced the day.  We were instructed to wear all our clothes backwards, our hair uncombed or unbraided.  The girls could wear no makeup and the boys were forced to wear makeup, with ribbons in their hair and donning aprons.  

At school, we were expected to salute the seniors and carry their books from class to class. The seniors lined us up in front of the student body and painted green "F's" on our foreheads.

In the evening, the seniors made us do humorous tasks.  Some of us had to measure the stage with wieners, while others were forced to drink milk from baby bottles or throw tomatoes at one another.  At the end of the night, ice cream was served to everyone.

The Class of 1947 got the chance to show their senior power on the 27th of September, 1946.  When we initiated the freshmen class, they were ordered to come to school dressed in the fashion of Mother Goose characters.  Every hour, they were to bow down and say a prayer suitable to the occasion.  

At noon, the seniors marched the freshmen through main street.  In the evening, a final ceremony was held with various stunts played on the freshmen.  A watermelon feed followed the activities.

Take The Times' Community Survey

Attention Dorchester area residents: We want your feedback! 

Currently, the Dorchester Times is conducting a survey to gather your attitudes regarding Dorchester's future growth -- specifically, the growth of its population.

Over the past 40-50 years, Dorchester has seen a stagnant population as the number of farms dwindle, and small-town economies fall prey to big box stores, the Internet economy and more economical, reliable transportation to cities miles away.

Still, despite the modern challenges, some rural communities have been able to not only sustain their population, but grow their numbers through innovative and creative solutions.  They've used today's realities and turned them in their favor.

So, today we want to know if you think it's important to grow Dorchester's population? And if so, what needs to happen? 

We also want to know what you think is Dorchester's best attribute, as well as its weakest.

We value your input on the important issues facing our community.  Please take our quick survey by clicking here or just see below.

Take part in our online survey

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

CRC Elite B-Ball Team Features Two Longhorns

The Dorchester basketball program has a long, proud history and the story continues.

The Crossroads Conference Elite Club basketball program recently concluded its third summer of competition.  

This year's CRC all-stars squad featured two players from Dorchester, current senior Corey Bird and 2014 DHS graduate Riley Zahourek.

The all-star team is made up of players from the Crossroads Conference schools and in 2014 had one team competing in the 8th grade division and two teams competing in the 11th and 12th grade division, while traveling to Omaha and Lincoln, as well as Kansas City, Hutchinson and Newton, Kan.  

Highlighting the summer was a first place finish in Kansas City and runner-up finishes in both Lincoln and Omaha.

Coaches were Dade McDonald from McCool Junction, Jon Mierau from Lincoln, Dan Hayes from Osceola and Chris Callan from Waverly.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Dorchester Receives 0.70" Of Rain Sunday Evening

Last night's showers were spotty.  In fact, they were some of the spottiest rainfalls to hit our area this year.

Fortunately for Dorchester's yards, gardens and area crops, the village received around 0.70" in most rain gauges.

But not all communities in Saline County were as lucky as Dorchester.  

Here's a look at some of the official precipitation reports from around our area:

Friend:  (3.4 miles east) ................... 0.76"
Western (4.4 NNE) ......................... 0.20"
Wilber (7.0 WSW) ......................... 0.20"
Tobias (1.8 E) .............................. 0.20"
Western (1.2 SE) .......................... 0.18"
Tobias (4.7 SSW) .......................... 0.00"
Dorchester (2.1 NW) ...................... 0.00"

Meanwhile, further west in Nebraska, powerful storm winds knocked down power lines and trees as hail pounded crops and buildings.  At least one person was reported injured Sunday by hail in northwest Nebraska's Sheridan County. Large hail was reported in adjacent Cherry County as well.

A gust of 83 mph was recorded by the National Weather Service in Hastings. The overnight storms caused power outages in Garfield County and in Hastings and Grand Island.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Saline Co. Drug & Alcohol Prevention Coalition Meets Aug. 25 In Wilber

The alcohol makers and pro-drug crowd won't like us for reporting this, but the facts are the facts.

Since the overall economy hit troubled times six years ago, America's use of drugs and alcohol has skyrocketed and been largely ignored by political leaders.  

A 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that 23.9 million Americans (nearly 10% of the population) aged 12 or older were current illicit drug users, meaning they had used an illicit drug during the month prior to the survey interview. Daily or almost daily use of marijuana (used on 20 or more days in the past month) increased from 5.1 million persons in 2007 to 7.6 million persons in 2012. The number of past year heroin users increased between 2007 (373,000) and 2012 (669,000). Among youths aged 12 to 17, the current illicit drug use rate was 10.1%.

Meanwhile, nearly one quarter (23.0%) of persons aged 12 or older were binge alcohol users in the past 30 days. This translates to about 59.7 million people. Among young adults aged 18 to 25 in 2012, the rate of binge drinking was 39.5%, and the rate of heavy drinking was 12.7%.  The rate of current alcohol use among youths aged 12 to 17 was 12.9% in 2012. An estimated 9.3 million underage persons (aged 12 to 20) were current drinkers, including 5.9 million binge drinkers and 1.7 million heavy drinkers. Among current underage drinkers, 36.6% got it from an unrelated person aged 21 or older, 23.0% got it from a parent, guardian, or other adult family member, and 18.8% got it from another person younger than 21 years old.

If you would like to help stem the tide against the growing dependence on drugs and alcohol, you can attend the next meeting of the Saline County Drug & Alcohol Prevention Coalition -- scheduled for Monday, August 25, 2014, beginning at 6 p.m. at the Saline County Extension office, 306 W. 3rd St. in Wilber. 

All county residents are encouraged to be a part of the prevention discussion and efforts. If you have questions or would like additional information, contact Tim at (402) 821-3581.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Looking Back: Our Main Street, 85 Years Ago

The Times has been sent a photo providing one of the best pictures yet -- at least that we have seen -- of Dorchester's bustling main street (Washington Avenue) as it appeared in the 1920s. According to the reader who sent the photo, the picture is featured on a 1929 postcard, mailed from a young man who was working on a snow fence project near Friend.

The photo shows the South Side Garage, located on the west side of the block between 6th and 7th Streets. Henry Sehnert owned and operated the garage from 1925 to 1930, before moving to the other side of the street, where he would operate his Ford garage for half a century. The South Side Garage was located near the present-day car wash. 

Today's City Hall can clearly be seen in the photo, looking north. At the time of the picture, the building housed Citizen's State Bank -- Dorchester oldest continuous business, despite the name change.  Also picture are the post office, and the Masonic and Good Fellows Hall (the second floor of today's City Hall and Donna's Hair Creations.)

Other photos published by the Times clearly show Dorchester's former water tower in the background of the South Side Garage. Prior to the 1920s, this area of main street was home to Skinkle Cafe and the H. Oetkin Machine Shop, according to a 1914-1920 map of Dorchester. Just north of the machine shop were Ireland's Dry Goods and Grocery and Randell's Shoe Shop. Continuing north up Main Street -- separated by the narrow alley and present-day bank drive-through -- were the Bank of Dorchester and Dr. Waller's Drug Store.  On the east side of the street on the same block sat the Commercial Hotel; Opera House; Cookus Blacksmith; Parker's Cream and Poultry; the Chamber of Commerce; City Hall; Dillon's Blue Front Cafe; and Malek's Butcher Shop.

Dorchester was a hub of business activity and free enterprise. We are certain that Times' readers would enjoy hearing any residents, past or present, who have heard stories from friends or family about Dorchester in the 1910s, '20s and '30s.  

(This article was originally published by the Dorchester Times in January 2010.)

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Is It Time To Bring Back Dorchester's Fall Festival?

This week, a hint of autumn has been in the air.  Fall is a time of celebration -- and many Nebraska communities have fall festivals planned.  It's appropriate in this part of the country.

For example, Hastings has a "Miles of Memories Country Musicfest and RV Rally."  Ogallala is hosting an "Indian Summer Rendezvous."  Kearney is conducting a "Fall Craft & Gift Show," while Gordon invites visitors to their "Willow Tree Festival."  

Several towns in central Nebraska host "Nebraska's Junk Jaunt," while in southwest Nebraska, McCook holds its "Heritage Days Celebration."

Some of our readers may recall that in the late 1970s, Dorchester held its own fall festival, an idea conceived and organized by school and town leaders. 

Dorchester's fall celebration was complete with a parade, kid activities, performances and food, like kettle corn and carmel apples.

This recollection made us wonder aloud: Why don't we rekindle this tradition? 

Dorchester -- home of one of the state's largest farmers cooperatives -- is a perfect site for a fall festival.

We already have a fantastic farmers' market each and every Friday during the production months.

In the late '70s, school leaders helped bring about the town's fall festival as a way to unite the entire community and school.  

With no football team playing at Nerud Field this year, we think solidifying the bond between DPS and the rest of the Dorchester area is critical.

What do you say, school and village leaders? Doesn't a fall festival sound nice right about now? It's an idea whose time has come -- again.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Five Easy Steps To Make Dorchester Even Better

Questions to ponder: When you drive into Dorchester, what do you notice? Is it clean and attractive? Are the streets, sidewalks, and parking lots clean? Are there businesses that make you want to stop? Are there attractions and events promoted? Are the buildings in good repair? Are there weeds growing in places they shouldn't be?

If you have a physical property, does it look the best it can? Are you giving back to your community or just taking from it?

Let there be no doubt, Dorchester has a lot going for it.  We note the positives every time we publicize a house that has been listed for sale.

But communities are like individuals -- we can all takes steps to make ourselves better.  Here are five easy things we can do in Dorchester to make our village an even better place to live or visit:

1.  Be friendly.  It sounds simple enough, but we often hear how rude and oblivious people have become nowadays simply because they didn't acknowledge the living being next to them. Recognize that people tend to stereotype a small community based on the interaction they've had with just one or two people there.  By just smiling, waving and being friendly to your neighbors, fellow residents and visitors, you'll make a difference.  It's easy if you try.

2.  Be helpful.  See the comments in step 1. 

3.  Be appreciative.  Tell a Village of Dorchester employee or school staff member or Dorchester business employee that you appreciate them.  Thank a community volunteer.  If visitors are in Dorchester, when appropriate, let them know the community appreciates them stopping by our village. 

4.  Listen and be responsive.  In this era of online lives, smart phones, earbuds, multiple pets and emphasis on self esteem, we don't take time to interact with those living and breathing human beings next to us, as generations before did.  Try listening to your fellow Dorchester area residents and, when applicable, helping them out.  You might learn something -- and as a result, your own opinions will be taken more seriously.

5.  Keep homes and buildings in repair and get rid of weeds and clutter.  Some of this is up to individual businesses and home owners, and some of it is up to the village and its partners to enforce ordinances in a timely manner.  Do we need more ordinances and fines to take care of run-down buildings? Or will negligent property owners respect their neighbors and rules of the community? If you have a neglected property, just resolve to clean it up, wash the windows, give it a fresh coat of paint.  Make your property an asset to Dorchester, not a detraction.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Become A DHS Booster Club Member Today

The first meeting of the Dorchester Booster Club will be held tomorrow, Aug. 13, at 7:30 p.m. in the school cafeteria. 

The meeting is open to everyone.  Dorchester Times readers are urged to join the Longhorn Booster Club today. 

You'll be surprised what a small donation can do.  The DHS Booster Club makes the participation of all activities for our students an enjoyable experience.  

From the purchase of new athletic equipment, to sponsorship of the annual homecoming pep rally, to paying Nebraska Coaches Association fees for DHS coaches, to buying meals for DHS athletes and coaches that qualify for state competition, these funds truly help carry on Longhorn pride.

Become a Longhorn Booster Club member today. Call DPS Athletics Director Brent Zoubek at (402) 946-2781 for details.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Hansens Celebrate 60 Years Of Marriage

What was happening back in the summer of 1954?

Bill Haley and His Comets were singing: "Shake, Rattle And Roll." 

Dean Martin was crooning "That's Amore."

Americans were celebrating a robust economy, with U.S. unemployment under 3%. 

The New York Stock Exchange reached its highest levels since 1929.

The cost of a stamp was 3 cents.  

Dr. Jonas Salk had started inoculating schoolchildren with his polio vaccine. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that race-based segregation in schools is unconstitutional.

And Wayne and Velma Hansen were getting married on July 25, 1954, right here in Dorchester. 

A couple of weeks ago, they celebrated their 60th anniversary with a family dinner.

It's not too late to congratulate them on this milestone in marriage.  Send your best wishes to Wayne and Velma at: 287 State Highway 15, Dorchester, NE 68343.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Can You Help The DVFD Today?

The serious auto accident that occurred Saturday evening just outside of town is another reminder of the important service provided by the volunteers of the Dorchester Fire and Rescue Department.

The Dorchester Volunteer Fire Department is vital to our community.  We need them -- and they need our support in order to be there when needed.

Word has it the DVFD is working to raise funds for much-needed equipment.

Think of the difference we all could make if every person with connections to Dorchester gave just $10, $25 or $50 to the DVFD.

Many of us think nothing of dropping $100 in Lincoln or Omaha.  Why not ensure some of that hard-earned cash stays in our community by giving to local community groups that are essential to our community's sustainability?

Please consider helping out the Dorchester Fire and Rescue volunteers right now.  Readers are encouraged to send their donations to:

Dorchester Volunteer Fire Dept. 
P.O.Box 36
Dorchester, NE  68343 

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Serious Accident Near Dorchester Sends Six To Hospital

Earlier this evening, around 5 p.m., a serious accident two miles east of Dorchester shut down Highway 33 for a lengthy period of time.

UPDATE: 10/11 News covered the story. The Lincoln TV station reports that a two-car accident on Highway 33 sent six people to the hospital and shut down a section of the highway for almost two hours Saturday night.

The Dorchester Volunteer Fire and Rescue Dept. assistant fire chief says an SUV carrying a family of five was going east, while the car involved was traveling west on Highway 33. He says the accident trapped the person in the car under the dashboard.

It took fire crews from Friend, Crete and Dorchester nearly 30 minutes to get the person out. The car's driver was taken directly to Bryan West Trauma. The Assistant Fire Chief says the injuries were critical, but not life threatening.

He says the five people in the SUV had minor injuries.

Editorial comment: This is another testament of the hard work and sacrifices made by volunteers at our local fire and rescue departments.  Thanks to those from the DVFD, as well as Friend and Crete departments who helped at the scene today.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Milford Fun Days Are Aug. 15-17

It's still summer and there's still summer fun planned in our area.

Take a quick drive up to Milford next weekend and enjoy any one of the numerous activities during Milford Fun Days.

The Aug. 15-17 celebration features inflatable games and a family street dance on Friday night; a fun run, petting zoo, volleyball tournament, rock climbing; bike rodeo; pulled pork picnic, parade and fireworks on Saturday; and a family adventure race on Sunday.  

To see the entire lineup of fun events at Milford Fun Days, click here

Or check out the Website by clicking here.

Looking Back: Dorchester's Old Gym

Friday, April 18, 2008 marked the very last high school dance held in what was referred to as Dorchester School's "old gym" -- also known as the multi-purpose room, to younger generations. 

Despite the razing of the 1927 school building in May 2008, good memories of the old gym still linger in the hearts and minds of Dorchester alumni.

Looking back, the tiny arena was put into use immediately upon the building’s completion in December 1927, according to the Dorchester Centennial History Book. And for the next 40 years, it showcased all the school's indoor sports, drama, music, speech, prom and homecoming activities.

Throughout the years, the gymnasium housed some tremendous talent, including the 1937-38 DHS boys basketball team, which made it to the Class B semi-finals of the Nebraska State Basketball Tournament.

With its tile floors and cramped corners, the old gym had a seating capacity of only 200 people. 

Basketball was no longer played in the old gym after 1964, following the completion of the school's new addition and current gymnasium -- both of which were approved by the district’s voters for a total of $296,000 in May 1963.

But for an additional 43 years, including the 2007-08 school year, the old gym continued to serve as the venue for junior high and high school plays, as well as speech activities. 

It was often the site of the DHS prom. And it housed the DHS homecoming dance for at least 70 consecutive years, going back to the mid-1930s, according to our research.

When the 1927 school building was reduced to rubble half a dozen years ago, many good memories were relived in the minds of former DPS students.

And it is very likely that no other area of the building will ever be remembered quite as fondly as Dorchester's old gym.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

DHS Alum Dan Hohensee To Lead $25M Career Academy In Lincoln

Occasionally, this blog features DHS alumni who are making, or have made, their mark in the world.

Today, we spotlight Dan Hohensee, DHS native and graduate of the Longhorns' Class of 1978.  

Most folks in Dorchester knew Dan was destined for big things, even back in the mid- to late-1970s.  Dan was a leader throughout his days at DHS, from yearbook editor to a standout in football, basketball, baseball, track, school plays, and swing choir. 

He was a good student and valedictorian of his 1978 graduating class  -- one of the largest DHS has ever produced at 33 students.

Earlier this summer, it was announced that Dan would oversee Lincoln Public Schools' new high school career academy with Southeast Community College, a $25 million joint venture that will offer juniors and seniors advanced courses, dual credit and internships in six broad career pathways.

Dan beat out two high school principles and a professor at Auburn University for this job.  No small task.

At age 54, Hohensee has been a rising star within LPS for sometime -- as a math instructor for 22 years, then as a leader on teaching entrepreneurship.

See the Lincoln Journal Star's recent story on Hohensee by clicking here.

LPS Superintendent Steve Joel calls Hohensee engaging, dynamic and energetic.  According to the Lincoln paper, one of the things Hohensee said he'll bring to his new job is knowing how important real-world experiences are to igniting passion, giving students purpose and motivating them to succeed.

The Journal Star noted: "Hohensee understands the satisfaction of working with his hands. Starting in high school, Hohensee helped his family build five homes."

We at the Dorchester Times tip our Longhorn hat to Dan, director of Lincoln's new career academy and one of the more notable DHS alums.  

Job well done!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Enroll Your 3- Or 4-Year Old In Dorchester Preschool Now

Did you know that 46% of Nebraska's kindergarten teachers say that half of their students are not prepared to learn in the classroom?

Did you know that much of a child's most critical learning occurs in the first five years of his or her life? In fact, as much as 90% of the brain's core structure is formed by age 5.

Based on several socio-economic factors, it's estimated that 41% Nebraska kids ages 0-5 are at risk of failing in school, as society evolves and becomes less family friendly.  In Saline County, that number is 53%.

What can you do about it?

One solution is to enroll your child in Dorchester Preschool, which is now taking applications for enrollment for the 2014-2015 school year.

Dorchester Preschool is open to all children who will have reached age 3 by Sept. 1 -- and for kids 4 years old who plan to attend kindergarten next fall.

The preschool classes are held three days a week: Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

The 3-year-old morning class will start the same time as K-12 (at 8:10 a.m.) and dismiss at 11:15 a.m.

The 4-year-old class (those who will be in kindergarten next year) is in the afternoon, beginning at 12:30 p.m. and dismissing at the end of K-12 school day.  

To enroll, call the Dorchester Preschool director, Doris Broz-Clauss, at (402) 946-2066 -- or at her home at (402) 821-2547.

Let's make sure all Dorchester kids succeed -- now and in the future.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Dorchester Demographics: A Look At Our Town By The Numbers

It has been a while since we examined the demographics of Dorchester, so today we are
doing exactly that.

In short, we can tell you this: girls outnumber the guys, and Dorchester's average age is considerable younger than that of the state, overall -- which is a good thing.

According to U.S. Census bureau statistics, Dorchester's population in 2012 fell to 594.  That's the first time in several decades that our community has fallen below the 600 mark.

Of the 594 residing in Dorchester, 45.7% (or 271) were male, while 54.3% (323) were female.

At the same time, Dorchester's population has become younger.  The median resident age here in Dorchester is 35.5 years, versus the much older median age statewide, which is 42.2 years.

Of the 235 households in Dorchester, 71.2% contain families. (No, dogs and cats don't count, and they still can't vote.)  That's higher than the rest of the state's households, of which 64.8% are family households. 

The average household size in Dorchester is 2.5 people, the same as the statewide average.

Fewer in Dorchester are "shacking up," since 5.6% of households in Dorchester are comprised of unmarried partners.  Statewide, the average is 6.0%.

The median household income in Dorchester in 2012 was $44,116 -- up from $34,000 in 2000.  That does fall a bit short of Nebraska's median household income of $50,723, but recall that Dorchester's median home price is roughly $45,000 less than the state's overal median home price.  In fact, according to the March 2012 cost of living index, Dorchester's cost of living is 75.9 on the index, which is much lower than the U.S. average of 100.

When examining the ethnic composition of Dorchester, here is the breakdown according to the Census:
  • White alone - 515 (87.9%)
  • Hispanic - 57 (9.7%)
  • Black alone - 6 (1.0%)
  • Two or more races - 6 (1.0%)
  • American Indian alone - 1 (0.2%)
  • Asian alone - 1 (0.2%)

Monday, August 4, 2014

Lincoln Tackling Neglected Properties

Last week, this blog looked at some ideas from fellow residents to address unkempt properties in town. 

We aren't the only community in the area looking for solutions.

Today, the Lincoln Journal Star reports on a proposed ordinance going before the Lincoln City Council.  (The story includes accompanying photos of several neglected houses.)

The Lincoln ordinance allows city inspectors to declare a vacant house a "neglected building" if it meets one of several conditions.  Then the owner would have to register the building with the city, at $500 for 90 days, and have a plan for rehabbing it. 

If the house isn’t safe to live in within 90 days, the owner has to pay another $500 registration fee.  If the owner fails to register it, the city will -- creating a $500 registration fee and a $500 civil penalty for failure to register every 90 days.  Thus the owner could accumulate $1,000 in fines and civil penalties every 90 days, up to a maximum of $4,000 a year.  

Lincoln officials took ideas for Lincoln's ordinance from half a dozen other communities.

Since the Lincoln ordinance has been carefully reviewed by attorneys to be certain it is compliant with state law, it obviously passes the smell test.  Dorchester leaders might want to consider such an ordinance for our own town.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Update: Dorchester's Latest Construction Boom

For those of you who say nothing ever changes in Dorchester, the summer of 2014 will be one to remember.

Our community of Dorchester is experiencing another construction boom, generating lots of economic activity for our village.

In total, an estimated $3 million of new commercial construction is coming (or has come) to town.  

That does not include the hundreds of thousands of dollars (perhaps more than $1 million) of home renovations that are occurring right now due to storm damage from earlier this summer.

Not bad for a town of 600 residents.

Dorchester's Farmers Cooperative -- one of Nebraska's largest agribusinesses -- is currently breaking ground preparing for an massive expansion of its office headquarters.  Moreover, another new, giant silo has started to go up.  

This eighth additional silo will complement the original co-op elevator.

The last new silo was completed in 2010.

Some estimates put the co-op's new construction alone at just under $2 million.

Meanwhile, the Nebraska Department of Roads has substantially expanded its Dorchester office facility, located just west of the co-op and its newer silos.  The expansion doubled the size of the Department of Roads facilities here in town.

And more construction by the Roads Department appears to be in the works, since the Village of Dorchester has posted a zoning notice on the property west of the DOR office building.

A new agribusiness is being completed on the south end of Dorchester, improving the appearance of Dorchester for those traveling Highway 33. 

According to reports, this business will provide seed and fertilizer to area farmers.  This marks the first business facility to locate in the south side of Dorchester, at least in modern era.

We've also noticed other expansions around town, such such as ongoing improvement to Barley Specialties. We commend L.J. and all the work he has done to invest in his Dorchester business.  He has proved that a small business can be successful in Dorchester.

We have also noticed several homeowners improving their historic homes.  

We commend property owners like Julie and Joe Holly, who have boosted Dorchester pride by improving some of our town's most nostalgic and elegant homes.

Since 2008, Dorchester has seen such a fury of new construction -- a new picnic shelter at the city park (thanks to the Community Foundation and its leaders); a new K-12 school and campus renovation (thanks to the district voters and taxpayers); a new concessions shack and restroom facility at Nerud Field (thanks to several volunteers and community leaders); a new water tower and new wells (thanks again to our taxpayers); and several building improvements.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Taxing Liquor, Dogs, Property Were Among First Actions Of Village Board

Note: Today's post is an excerpt from the 1981 "Centennial History of Dorchester" book.  We thought our readers would like to know what town leaders were voting on 133 years ago...

As Dorchester's population grew to nearly 300 by the early 1880s, it became necessary to establish a formal system of government.  On June 23, 1881, a petition was presented to and granted by the Saline County commissioners for the incorporation of the village.

The following residents were appointed by the commissioners as village trustees: D.G. Panter, John Oberlies, N.B. Alley, Thomas Jarrett, and W.H. Pallett. 

C.F. Thomas, J.H. Clark and M.O. Alley were named village clerk, treasurer and marshal, respectively.

On July 6, 1881, the first meeting of the Dorchester Village Board was held.  At this meeting, the trustees designated that the first Monday of each month would be the regular meeting time for the board, which is still adhered to today.

Four other ordinances were approved at this first meeting.  The were:
  • Ordinance 1:  Regulating the sales of intoxicating liquors in the village.
  • Ordinance 2:  Imposing a license tax on dogs in the village.
  • Ordinance 3:  Levying a five mills to the dollar valuation taxes for the year 1881.
  • Ordinance 4:  Providing for the grading and guttering of streets and alleys, as well as construction of wooden sidewalks.
These ordinances showed the concerns of a new community that was trying to improve conditions and allow for growth of the village.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Looking Back: Old Bell Was The Pride Of DPS Campus

Back in 2008, we reported that Dorchester school leaders sought suggestions for items to be placed in a time capsule that is now sealed inside the school's new bell monument. The monument, located prominently in front of the new school's main entrance, features the refurbished bell from the 1890 school building. 

For those old enough to remember, the old school bell was showcased as part of a 1932 brick monument, which stood just to the east of the 1927 school building, torn down in 2008. The old bell monument a few years earlier due to its weakened structure and safety concerns.

Thanks to a loyal reader, the Dorchester Times was sent a May 1932 DHS alumni newsletter, which helped us uncover a little more history behind the old monument and the school bell, itself.

According to an Dorchester High School Alumni Pep Bulletin article written by W.R. Freidell (DHS Class of 1907), the bell was salvaged from "the wreckage of the old red brick school house" after the building was demolished in 1930. 

That's when the DHS Alumni Association asked DHS graduate Merion Mooberry (Class of 1916), a skilled architect, to design "an appropriate mounting for this bell." (Editor's note: The sketch below is from the May 1932 issue of the Bulletin.)

The monument was unveiled at the fifth annual DHS alumni banquet on May 21, 1932. The "historic landmark and "grandsire of the campus" was presented to alumni by its builder, DHS graduate and contractor Thomas Grey, Jr. 

The newsletter reports that the bell was mounted in "a lovely designed, final resting place just east of the new high school." 

Following the alumni banquet, toasts were made "around the Traditional old bell."

We note that tickets for the 1932 alumni banquet were reduced to 65 cents a plate, due to "Old Man Oppression" -- otherwise known as the Great Depression.  But attendees still received the "same big three-course dinner," per the orders of Mrs. Panter, chairman of the banquet.

Following the monument dedication and banquet dinner, alumni were invited to visit the historian's exhibit entitled, "See Yourselves as Others Saw You on Your Graduation Night Years Ago."

DHS Grad, Former Resident Brad June Passes At 56

Former Dorchester resident and 1976 DHS graduate Bradley Dean June, 56 years of age, of Concordia, Kan., and formerly of Pilger, Neb., passed away peacefully surrounded by family on Monday, July 28, 2014 in Concordia. He was born on May 31, 1958 in Concordia to Boyd “Toby” and Patricia (Cassel) June. 

UPDATE: The June family is having an open house to celebrate and remember the life Brad June on this afternoon and evening, August 1, from 4 p.m. until 8 p.m. at the Dorchester Community Building. Please join the family in remembering good times and treasured memories.

Brad graduated in 1976 from Dorchester High School in Dorchester, Nebraska. He loved agronomy and worked at several different co-ops in both Nebraska and South Dakota. Brad’s favorite time of year at work was during the spring/planting season when he put in many hours in the field. He married Brenda Fees on March 6, 2012 in Stanton, Nebraska. Recently, Brad showed his strength once again as he survived the direct hit from the tornado that hit Pilger, Neb. on June 16, 2014. Brad enjoyed fishing, riding his Harley, his dogs, and especially spending time with his grandchildren.

Brad is survived by his wife, Brenda; four children, Josh June and wife Becky of Milford, Sarah June of Lincoln, Spencer June and wife B.J., Hannah June, both of Dorchester; five step-children, Brendon Hauder of Lincoln, Breanna Zavalaga and husband G.C. of Vista, California, Brandel Hauder and wife Taylor of Milford, Broderick Hauder of Pleasant Hill, Brittani Hauder and fiancé Richard of Lincoln; seven grandchildren; mother, Patricia June of Concordia; two brothers, Brian June and wife Lynette of Columbus, Jason June and wife Jody of Malmo; 2 sisters, Cindi Etten and husband John of Fort Collins, Colorado, Laurie Heise and husband Tim of Lincoln; and several nieces and nephews. 

He was preceded in death by his father, Boyd “Toby” June on May 20, 2007.

Private Memorial Services will be held at a later date. There will be no visitation. Memorials are suggested to the American Cancer Society in care of the funeral home. Chaput-Buoy Funeral Home in Concordia is in charge of arrangements.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Times Gets With The Times

After years of prodding by some of our dearest readers, the Dorchester Times has finally (and reluctantly) joined Facebook, the online social networking service we thought would be dead by now.

Despite our reluctance to join, members of our staff thought the Times could do a better job communicating with area residents, as well as DHS alumni and former residents who have moved away, by having a presence on Facebook.

Anyway, that's enough about our late arrival onto the social networking scene. (Isn't having a blog enough nowadays?)

Check out our page at

You don't even have to "like" us.  We're just asking you to be our "friend."  (We really are getting too sappy in our old age...)

Can Dorchester Silence The Train Horns After 10 P.M.?

It seems the trains running through Dorchester are starting to test the patience and nerves of some town residents.

Earlier this month, we reported on citizen complaints about the lengthy blockades occurring regularly at the town's railroad crossings due to stopped train cars.

Now, one resident is tell us he thinks it's time for Dorchester to consider imposing a quiet zone after 10 p.m. for both crossings entering town.  He says it "makes little sense for trains moving 5 to 10 m.p.h. to blow their horns up to a dozen times long after most residents have gone to bed."

The resident who e-mailed informs us that south Lincoln (14th Street) is a "no horn" zone during the evening hours.  He said local residents in that part of the Capital City requested the designation be made by the Lincoln City Council, which then had to work with Burlington Northern Santa Fe on the details.

According to a City of Lincoln website, 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.

Lincoln has four designated Quiet Zones, which include twelve crossings along the BNSF railroad.

We at the Times like the idea and think it would improve Dorchester's quality of life. And we thank the resident for e-mailing us this idea to share with readers.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

DHS Volleyball Schedule Announced

The fall sports season is nearly upon us and the official 2014 Dorchester High School varsity
volleyball schedule has been announced. 

The Lady Longhorns are looking to forge a culture of winning traditions under a second-year head coach Ty Peteranetz.  

Coach Peteranetz is a self-described "transplanted, Colorado-born Husker fan," who moved to Omaha in 2011 after 30 years in Colorado to be the assistant volleyball coach at the College of St. Mary.  He missed teaching terribly, so he resigned his position with CSM to be an educator and coach at DHS.  He teaches Dorchester's fourth grade.

In 2013, DHS fielded one of the youngest high school volleyball teams in Nebraska.  This season, the Lady Longhorns will have the depth to accomplish some great things, with more than 20 girls expected to be competing for starting roles on the squad. 

Insiders say the increased numbers of players will definitely bring more success, with young but experienced players like Jacee Weber, Kacey Zoubek and Avery Behrens, all of who helped lead the team last season.

2014 DHS Longhorn Volleyball

09/04/14 Palmyra, Weeping Water (Triangular @ Weeping Water)
09/11/14 Hampton, Giltner  (Triangular @ Hampton)
09/18/14 @ Friend
09/20/14   BDS Invite (1-Day Tournament, Several Teams) @ Shickley
09/23/14 Osceola
09/25/14 High Plains Community, Shelby/Rising City (Triangular @ Shelby/Rising City)
09/27/14 Nebraska Lutheran Tournament (1-Day Tournament, Several Teams) @ Waco
09/30/14 @ Sterling
10/02/14 Meridian, Diller-Odel (Triangular @ Diller-Odell)
10/07/14 @ Parkview Christian
10/09/14 Exeter-Milligan, Cross County (Triangular @ home)
10/14/14 BDS, McCool Junction  (Triangular @ home)
10/18-21 Crossroads Conference Tournament (2/3-Day Tournament) @ York
10/28/14 Parkview Christian, Nebraska Christian  (Triangular @ home)
10/31/14 @ Nebraska Lutheran

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Czech Days Are Here

The first full weekend of August is almost here and area folks, young and old, will be headed to the annual Wilber Czech Days Festival, one of Saline County's most noted and celebrated annual events. 

This year's theme for the festival: "Education -- a Czech Value."

Our readers in Wilber tell us town officials have spent months preparing for the 2013 National Czech Festival (July 31-Aug. 3).

Every year at this time, the population of Wilber swells to as many as 50,000 as folks traverse from miles around to celebrate their own Czech ancestry or just to pay tribute to some of the county's early pioneers and traditions. 

The community of approximately 1,700 has been the official Czech capital of Nebraska since 1963 -- and of the United States since 1987. The festival itself began in 1962.

This year, Czech Days activities will include a free dance at Hotel Wilber, Czech bingo, the accordion jamboree, a sand volleyball tournament, a children's parade, an art show, dance contest, Czech dinners, museum tours, quilt show, Czech heritage demonstrations, and the sounds of various polka bands.

The official Czech Days' parade starts at 2 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday. The Miss Czech-Slovak U.S.A. Queen Pageant begins at 7 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday at the outdoor theater.  For more information and a full listing of the Czech Days' activities, click here.

A note to all of you who are driving to the event: The Nebraska State Patrol in conjunction with local law enforcement will conduct special enforcement efforts in and around Saline County this weekend. A grant from the Nebraska Office of Highway Safety will help pay for overtime hours used by troopers and communication specialists.

If you go, have fun and be safe.  And if you don't speak Czech, just tell them: Ahoj kámo! (Hello, friend!)

Monday, July 28, 2014

Milford-Dorchester Football Schedule Announced

It's still July, but the football schedule for the Dorchester-Milford varsity football team was announced today.

This season will mark the first time in Dorchester High School history that DHS student-athletes will play varsity football with another school.  

Last season, the Milford-Dorchester sports co-operative was in effect; however, the Nebraska School Activities Association imposed a probationary period on the joining school and DHS football players were prohibited from playing in Milford's varsity competition.

The 2013 season marked the first time since 1948 that Dorchester had not had a high school team. (In 1949, DHS' football program was rejuvenated after years of not playing the game due to a student's death on the gridiron in the early 1930s.)

Two years ago, Milford school administrators and board members agreed to allow DHS to join in what is now officially deemed an "athletic cooperative" between the two schools, on a two-year basis or until DHS has sufficient numbers to resume playing at the Class D level.  The impacted athletics include football and wrestling.

One parent told us last year that while there was some controversy in the creation of the cooperative, Milford was a great and flexible partner in the process.  He also told this blog that DHS football was in a serious rebuilding process, since many parents were not encouraging boys to play the sport.  

"Dorchester can have a proud football culture once again," he said.  "But we need to take advantage of this merger with Milford to get our kids interested in playing the game, regardless if those kids come from town, the farm, from single-parent households, or from low-income homes."

Below is this season's football schedule for the Class C1 Milford-Dorchester squad, which host the season-opener in Milford on Aug. 29.

Milford-Dorchester 2014 Schedule

Week 1 -- Louisville
Week 2 -- @Grand Island Central Catholic
Week 3 -- @David City
Week 4 -- Holdrege
Week 5 -- @Fairbury
Week 6 -- Lincoln Christian
Week 7 -- @Raymond Central
Week 8 -- Lincoln Lutheran
Week 9 -- @Wilber-Clatonia

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Options For Addressing Unsightly, Dangerous Properties In Town

Earlier this week, the Times received a letter from a resident who complained about the condition of some unkempt properties in town.

Old complaint.  Old problem.  The question is: What to do about it?

We asked three friends of this blog what they would do -- if made king/queen of Dorchester for a day -- to address homes and commercial buildings in major disrepair? We received three different answers.  Here they are:

  1. Crack down more on negligent and/or messy property owners, using heavier fines and legal means.
  2. Create a "cost-share incentive program" to financially assist clean-up and restoration efforts made by low-income property owners.  (When we asked how this fund would be financed, the resident told us through donations, fundraisers, property tax revenues and perhaps a new sales tax.)
  3. Declare certain blocks in Dorchester as blighted and substandard, then use tax increment financing to encourage rebuilding and/or renovation.  (The person who gave us this answer said this could bring a new retirement facility to town, or maybe a new apartment building.) 

Readers of this blog might not be too familiar with tax increment financing, but it's a tool being used in many Nebraska communities to encourage the redevelopment of deteriorating, dilapidated properties.  Nebraska law permits its use. 

We aren't experts on tax increment financing, or TIF for short, but it seems to be a pretty straight-forward concept.  It takes property tax revenue that would normally be paid by developers (once a property is improved and valued at a much higher price) and diverts it back into their projects.  That money can even be used for for public infrastructure near the project.

Under Nebraska law, TIF projects may be commercial, residential, industrial, or mixed use.  After a project is approved by the town board, the locality authorizes the issuance of warrants or TIF bonds to undertake public improvements in the designated area.  

We are interested in what our readers would do to encourage clean-up and repair of dilapidated properties in town?