Sunday, August 31, 2014

Getting Rocked!

UPDATE: As of 10 p.m. Sunday night, another 1.15" had fallen on Dorchester.  That makes more than 5" of rain since mid-week.

Late summer thunderstorms are rocking the Dorchester area and much of eastern Nebraska on this last day of August.

Up to another inch of precipitation is predicted over the next hour in Dorchester. Rainfall should cease around 6:45 or 7 p.m.

A tornado watch remains in effect until 9 p.m.  A flood warning has been in effect for the Dorchester area for the past three days.

Stay up-to-date with Dorchester's weather and radar outlook by clicking here.

Looking Back: Dorchester's Political Past

It may come as a surprise to modern-day Dorchester area residents, our community has played a role in Nebraska’s political history.

Research by the Dorchester Times’ staff has uncovered at least eight Dorchester residents or natives who have served in the Nebraska Legislature.

Of course, it should be noted that from 1866 until 1937, Nebraska had a bicameral legislature with both a state senate and state house of representatives. 

When Nebraska implemented its unique unicameral legislature in late 1937, the number of state lawmakers declined from 133 in the bicameral to 43 in the stand-alone chamber.  (Today, the Cornhusker State 49 state senators.) Still, we were impressed by the lengthy list of Dorchester’s past political leadership.

Here is the list of the Dorchester residents and natives who served in our state legislature, followed by the years they were in office:
  • T.B. Parker (1877-79)
  • John J. Edicott (1899-1901)
  • William H. Beekly (1901-1903)
  • John Chab (1909-11)
  • Fred Gustus Johnson (1907-09; 1917-20)
  • Charles H. Meacham, Jr. (1923-29)
  • Allen J. Murphy (1921-23)
  • Don Eret (1983-87)
Of the above public servants, Fred Gustus Johnson, who lived from 1876–1951, was the most prominent. He went on to serve as lieutenant governor and a member of the U.S. House.

A Republican, Johnson was born on a farm near Dorchester. He graduated from DHS in 1893 and from UNL’s college of law in 1903; he was admitted to the bar the same year. He set up practice in Dorchester and did a little farming on the side. In 1911, he moved Hastings to continue his law practice.

Johnson was elected a member of the Nebraska state house of representatives from 1907 to 1909 and again from 1917 to 1919. He was elected to the state senate in 1919. In 1923, Johnson went on to become Nebraska’s lieutenant governor.

Johnson reached the apex of his political career in 1929, when he was elected to serve as a U.S. congressman from Nebraska's 5th district in 1929. He ran in 1930 and 1932, but failed to be re-elected, as Republicans fell out of favor during the Great Depression.  He was later elected as a county judge.

Johnson died April 30, 1951. He is buried in Parkview Cemetery in Hastings.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Flooding Hits Dorchester Area After Big Rains

The heavy rains of the past four or five days have resulted in significant flooding in our area.  In fact, the Dorchester area remains in a flood warning.

The picture on this post is from a Times reader who sent us a glimpse of Turkey Creek near Pleasant Hill as it appeared Friday evening.

Turkey Creek has been out of its banks since Thursday morning.

Meanwhile, the National Weather Service tells us that the Big Blue River near Crete was at 22.6 ft. as of 10 a.m. this morning.  That's 4.6 ft. above the flood stage of 18 ft.

The river will continue rising, likely above 23 ft., but it should fall below flood stage by Monday afternoon -- if there is no additional rainfall.

See what the weather forecasters are predicting for the Dorchester area by clicking here.

MHS-DHS Kicks Off Season With 27-6 Win

The Milford-Dorchester football team opened the high school season last night with a convincing victory against Louisville in a Class C-1 battle.  The MHS-DHS squad won 27-6.

Milford-Dorchester is in its second season as a co-op, but this is the first year Dorchester students can play games on varsity.

The MHS-DHS Eagles are coming off a 3-6 season, but coaches and players believe momentum could swing their way in 2014.  Last night, the team moved the ball with relative ease, while the defense showed it was much faster than last year's squad.

Milford-Dorchester returns an impressive 13 starters. One of them is tight end and linebacker Daniel Mitchell, who is a key contributor. 

Friday, August 29, 2014

Dorchester Deluged: 72-Hour Rainfall Amounts In Saline County

UPDATE: Late August rain is quickly ensuring that our area of Nebraska will have a big, big surplus of yearly precipitation heading into autumn.

In parts of York County, they've received more than 10 in. over the past four nights.  Most people there have stopped counting.

Here is a look at rainfall amounts in Saline County over the past 72 hours:

Dorchester (In Town) ................ Around 3.85"
Milford (5.9 miles SSE) .............. 3.20"
Dorchester (2.1 miles NW) ......... 2.60"
Dorchester (4.4 miles SSE) ......... 1.42"
Friend (3.4 miles E) ................. 2.21"
Friend (4.8 miles SSE) .............. 1.99"
Wilber (7.0 miles WSW) ............ 0.90"
Wilber (4.1 miles W) ................ 0.88"
Western (1.2 miles SE) .............. 0.90"
DeWitt (0.3 miles WNW) ........... 0.58"
Tobias (4.7 miles SSW) ............. 0.71"

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Dorchester Gets More Rain, But Avoids Huge Amounts So Far

Dorchester was drenched earlier today, but we've avoided the heavy soakers that have hit York county.  One report, compiled by the NeRAIN reporting program, shows that the area just southwest of the communnity of York was deluged with nearly 6.5 inches.

See the York News-Times for images from that community.

In the meantime, rain and thunderstorms are supposed to resume around 5:30 p.m. tonight and continue off and on until tomorrow afternoon.  Keep up on the weather by clicking here.

For the sake of record keeping, here is a list of rainfall totals from our region over the past 36 hours:
  • York, 0.6 mile SW -- 6.42"
  • York, 1.0 mile ESE -- 5.01"
  • Hampton, 2.6 miles ESE -- 2.41"
  • Henderson, 3.4 miles ENE -- 2.39"
  • McCool Junction, 1.1 miles ENE -- 1.62"
  • Seward, 4.7 miles NE -- 1.28"
  • Dorchester, 2.1 miles NW -- 0.46"
  • Friend, 3.4 miles E -- 0.15"

Dealing With Negative People In A Small Community

Every small community has its handful of negative residents. In a small town, most everyone knows who those negative people are. (Social media even makes it easier to spot them these days.)

These are the folks who can spot flaws in the best of situations.  They are the ones who like to air their negativity publicly. They typically believe that nobody can or could do the job better than them, if ever they were to actually help around town.

Obviously, no one can be happy all the time; no one who isn't on some type of drug can keep a permanent smile on their face.  Yet, putting up with constant negativity is, at best, draining. And at worst, it's a morale killer that negatively affects the attitudes and efforts of fellow residents.

Here are our five strategies we've devised for dealing with negative people in and around a small town:

1.)  Don’t write off the negativity. It’s easy to dismiss negative attitudes and comments with remarks like, “That’s just the way she is.” But sometimes, negative people are pointing out very real problems and legitimate concerns that can and must be addressed.  Town leaders, school administrators and group organizers need to take into consideration all serious comments and complaints, even if from the consistently-negative crowd.

2.)  Consider the circumstances. If an always-negative resident is coping with a personal matter that is affecting his/her behavior, be sympathetic.  In a small town, we often hear what other people said, but we don't know the circumstances that may have prompted the comments.  The truth is, those constantly negative people probably have a big void somewhere in their lives.  (This happens in the big cities just as often, if not more. The Negative Nancys simply aren't as visible there.)

3.)  Make Negative Nancy part of the solution. Sometimes, community leaders simply need to let those who are constantly negative know that their concerns are being heard -- and that it would make more sense for them to tell someone who can do something about it, instead of airing their negative comments for all to hear (or read).  Establishing a special committee and offering a committee spot to the negative person would put the burden on Mr./Ms. Negative to be part of the solution.

4.)  Be rational in your approach.  Negativity is mostly emotional.  Don't combat emotion with more emotion; combat negativity with facts.  For example, if someone is constantly saying the cost-of-living is too high in Dorchester, show them Dorchester has the lowest school levy in Saline County; show them that Nebraska, overall, is one of the very least expensive states in which to reside. 

5.)  Know when to say goodbye. We realize our words aren't so powerful that we can change personalities. Let's all work to bring the negative personalities around by making them part of the solution.  But at the end of the day, in a small town -- just like a big city -- some people only want to complain and wear a constant frown.  Perhaps they feel isolated or can't see it's their own attitude acting as an impediment to making their own community a bit better.  For these people, it's best to leave them alone and not give them a platform.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Report: Farmland Foods Cracks Down On Illegal Workers, Finally

We were shocked to read that this past week, a Democrat state representative in next door Iowa, who happens to also be running for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, said if the underage migrants who have come to the U.S. from Central America aren’t given a “pathway for citizenship” they could become terrorists. The candidate, Pat Murphy, said if illegal immigrants aren't provided benefits from taxpayers today, "they’ll be terrorists a generation from now."

If that's the case, we have a problem in every corner of America -- especially meatpacking towns like Crete -- since America's political leaders have shamefully turned a blind eye to immigration enforcement and border security.

We have often wondered how many people in our own county are here illegally -- or "without documentation," as some would want us to say. (The Times is on record as a longtime critic of our nation's poor enforcement of immigration across our southern border.)

At last check, unofficial census counts estimate the city of Crete is about 40-45% Hispanic or other minority.  That is a staggering (dare we say unhealthy?) rate of change experienced by Saline County's largest community over just 15 years.  We've been told by a Crete leader of respected stature that he estimates that as much as 35%-40% of Crete's Hispanic population is here illegally.

Recently, the Times was informed that Farmland Foods of Crete, owned by Shuanghui International Holdings of China, has cracked down on employment of those who cannot prove they are in the country legally.  According to inside reports, the new enforcement guidelines were implemented earlier this summer.  As soon as they were, more than 200 employees walked off the job, presumably because they are in the country illegally.

Those 200 are now "lurking in the shadows," as some politicians have said.

We wonder when other businesses and entities -- such as landlords, school administrators, realtors, social welfare organizations receiving state dollars -- catering to individuals who are "without documentation" will step up and demand to see proof of citizenship? Even if they aren't required to, don't they have an obligation to inform their fellow residents and taxpayers?

Monday, August 25, 2014

Leonard & Jan Stehlik Celebrate 60 Years

Sixty years ago.  Seems like just yesterday.

Actually, it was 525,600 minutes ago.  

And that's when Leonard and Jan (Jeanette Selk) Stehlik of Dorchester were getting married.

Other notable events of 1954 were:
  • Jerry Seinfeld, the comedian, is born.
  • The first issue of Sports Illustrated magazine is published in the United States.
  • The Miss America Pageant is broadcast on television for the first time.
  • Bill Haley & His Comets record "Rock Around the Clock", thus starting the rock and roll craze.
  • The words "under God" are added to the United States Pledge of Allegiance.
  • And RCA manufactures the first color television set (12-inch screen; price: $1,000).
This month, the Stehliks celebrated their 60th anniversary on Aug. 22 with their five children and six grandchildren.

Cards may be sent to 1479 County Road C, Dorchester, NE 68343.

Looking Back: Natives and Dorchester's First European Settlers

Today we look back on Dorchester's earliest recorded history and some of the area's first residents of European descent, as well as some of their confrontations with Native Americans who roamed the region.

According to the Dorchester Centennial history book, the first official survey of the Nebraska Territory was taken in 1857, shortly after the Kansas-Nebraska Act became law. The surveyor's notes for the Dorchester Precinct describe the area as having "generally level and gently rolling, good, second-rate soil." The West Fork of the Blue River was described as "clear with a very rapid current ... producing very fine cat fish and buffalo fish (carp)."

Two of the first families to settle in the Dorchester area were the Frink and West families.

In 1857 or 1858, Ephraim Frink and his wife, Mary, came from Pennsylvania and settled near Turkey Creek and just west of what is now Pleasant Hill. Soon after, the West family arrived in the area. Thomas West came from Iowa and, along with his family, brought friends Orion Johnson and William Smith. Johnson built Saline County's first homestead just north of present-day Dorchester on the banks of Johnson Creek (pictured above) and made some of the wooden burrs for the West Mills, the first grain mill between Nebraska City and the western states.

Soon after their arrival to Nebraska, Smith and West learned firsthand the dangers of living on the edge of the frontier. In the autumn of 1859, on a trip back to Dorchester from Nebraska City -- the nearest trading post -- Smith and West were confronted by a group of Pawnee Indians. Typically, the Pawnee posed little danger to white settlers. However, these particular Natives -- fearing that Smith and Johnson would report them for killing a heard of government-owned cattle -- tied up, tortured and planned to shoot both West and Smith.

Using gestures and sign language, West convinced the Natives not to kill him and his partner. The Natives agreed to release them, but not before taking all their supplies and food they had purchased in Nebraska City. West and Smith were then blindfolded for the rest of the day, driven in their oxen-led wagon for a length of time, and deserted on the prairie. For 16 days, the men wandered trying to find their way home, resorting at one point to killing a badger and eating it raw for nourishment.

Mr. West's troubles with the Natives continue soon thereafter. In March 1860, the West family's log cabin was set on fire by the a band of Omaha Indians. Sioux Indians, meanwhile, killed many of the Frink family's cattle.

One of the most unfortunate confrontations between Natives and Dorchester-area settlers came in 1860 -- when there were only around 30 residents in Saline County. A small party of Indians made a hostile raid on the Patton family, who had come from Kentucky and lived in the area southwest of present-day Dorchester. After a group of Natives stole Mr. Patton's cattle and "mistreated" his wife while he was away from home, Mr. Patton vowed he would kill an Indian in vengeance. He did, somewhere in Gage County. In response, the first governor of the Nebraska Territory, J. Sterling Morton, encouraged pioneers in and near Saline County to protect themselves by organizing a citizens' militia, armed with firearms issued by the Territory.

According to the Dorchester Centennial history book, the Natives and the settlers of Saline County learned "to become more friendly and even helpful" to each other. Mary West, Thomas' wife, was often seen feeding the Natives stew. The Natives "taught the settlers how to cure meat, tan hides and make moccasins."

Thomas West became known as "Good Thomas" by the Natives due to his gentle nature. When he died of typhoid fever in 1880, a small group of Natives formed a circle around his grave and performed something similar to the Pawnee's peace pipe ceremony that "recognized the spirits of nature" -- earth, sky and the four winds. It is reported they then let out "howls" of mourning in tribute to one of the Dorchester area's first white settlers -- a man who, probably unknowingly, helped forge the permanent change in Natives' land and way of life.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Ladies: Spots Still Open For Outdoors Program

The Dorchester area has its share of females who enjoy the great outdoors -- whether it's hunting or camping, boating or hiking.  The good news is that space is still available for a retreat that teaches women skills they can use in the outdoors.

The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission says the annual Becoming and Outdoors-Woman program runs from Oct. 3-5 at the national forest near Halsey. The BOW program is intended to help women become active in hunting, camping, boating, hiking and fishing.

Anyone who is at least 18 years old can register to learn skills in a friendly, non-intimidating environment.  Additional information and registration forms are available online at

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.