Saturday, June 16, 2018

Modular Homes Are Likely The Future For Most New Home Buyers

Home prices are very much overvalued in the Lincoln and Omaha areas, including in areas as close in proximity as Milford and Seward.  Most prospective newer home buyers can only laugh and shake their heads, unless they are desperate.

Experts say this is due to numerous factors, including:
  • Surrounding farm ground prices being pushed to unreasonably inflated values by wealthy and/or well-financed bidders, thereby affecting all real estate prices.
  • Cheap money caused by artificially low interest rates charged by the Fed for the past decade.
  • A shortage of available homes due to Baby Boomers staying in their homes longer than older generations, as well as the increasing average age of American homes.
  • Fewer new homes being built due to shortage of home builders and contractors.
  • Home builders choosing to focus on custom-built homes of $500,000 or more, instead of middle-class structures.
Inflated home prices and the shortage of home builders willing to take on middle-class home construction -- not too mention stricter lending rules following the Great Recession -- make it tough for communities like Dorchester to expand their housing stock with new homes.

That's why we wanted to use this post as an opportunity to explore modular home builders and retailers in our area.

Modular homes are not mobile homes, which depreciate in value and do not improve a community.  Instead, modular homes are real homes, built section-by-section in a factory setting, indoors, where they are never subjected to adverse weather conditions like a typical stick-built home. The individual sections move through the factory, with the company's quality control department checking them every step.  They are placed on a pre-made foundation, professionally joined, and completed by a local builder.

What's more, modular homes can lead to significant cost savings versus traditional stick-built homes.  Think of modular manufacturing as a smarter, more efficient way of home building, just as the assembly line was for automobiles beginning over 100 years ago.  Best of all, the quality of modular homes has improved exponentially over just the past decade, to the point that one can no longer tell what was stick-built and what was produced off site.

We think modular homes are the future of home building for the middle- and working class, as well as for those who want to avoid a lifetime of mortgage payments.  They definitely offer at least a partial solution for smaller communities like Dorchester that are in need of new houses.

In our area, there are several modular home builders to choose from, including:
  • Heritage Homes -- Wayne, Neb. (Click on the company's name to see websites.)

Friday, June 15, 2018

Schedule For Dorchester's July 4th Celebration

Dorchester's Independence Day is one of the very best small-town July 4th celebrations in all of Nebraska. It's personal, quaint and genuinely patriotic. 

Our community's July 4th celebration is also an annual tradition that draws in folks from near and far, including residents from neighboring communities, friends, family and DHS alumni from across the country.  

You will find plenty of things to do in Dorchester on Independence Day, without the hurried (and sometimes rude) crowds of larger communities.  Of course, the highlight of the day comes after dark with the famous fireworks show, which has been delighting crowds for more than two decades.  

If you're on Facebook, check out the Dorchester 4th of July page.


Dorchester's July 4 Celebration
2018 Schedule of Events

All Day (July 3 and 4) ............. Co-ed Softball Tourney (@ Nerud Field. Call Jared Jensen at 402-641-1154.)

7 a.m. .................................. Stampede Fun Run (1 mile walk/run or 5K begins in front of bank on main street.  Call Kelli Whitney at 402-217-3374 or register online here.)

10 a.m. - 5 p.m. ..................... Visit the Saline County Museum (open to public).

11 a.m.- 7 p.m. ..................... Sons of American Legion BBQ @ Dorchester Legion Hall.

11 a.m. ................................. Auxiliary/Jr. Auxiliary Pie and Ice Cream Social/Raffle @ Legion Building.

1 p.m. ................................. "Show and Shine" @ County Museum along Hwy 33. (Tractors, autos, motorcycles -- any year.  No cost.  Call Matt Smith at 402-826-9303 for more information.)

2 p.m. .................................. Bingo hosted by Legion Auxiliary @ Community Building on main street.

3 p.m. .................................. Kids' Games @ city park.

4 p.m. ................................. Kiddy Tractor Pull.  South of City Slickers on 7th St. (Sponsored by Farmers Co-Op. Registration begins at 3:30 p.m. Participants must register.)

7 p.m. ................................. Parade (Line-up begins at 6:30 p.m. at Co-Op offices and parking lot near elevator.  Bring a description of your entry. For more, e-mail

9:50 p.m. ............................ Taekwondo Performance at football field.

10 p.m. ............................. "The Big Show" -- Fireworks at football field.  (Alternate date is July 5.)


Firework sales in Dorchester will be from June 25-July 4 at the trailer just south of the Dorchester Fire Hall.  All proceeds will support the Dorchester fireworks show on July 4.  There will be a raffle for "The Big Stuff" -- as in some of the big fireworks from the Dorchester fireworks stand, where the raffle tickets will be sold. The drawing will be held July 3 at 5 p.m.  Need not be present to win.  

Dorchester's 4th of July celebration depends on private support. Some of the contributors of the 2017 fireworks show were: Village of Dorchester; First State Bank; Farmers Co-op; Novak Auction; The Well; City Slickers; Big T's BBQ; Sandy Creek Restoration; Dorchester Legion Auxiliary; Spring Creek Repair; Barley's Specialties; Holly Well Drilling; Tabor Hall; Rut Auction; Donna's Hair Creation; Allen and Twila Papik; John and Kathy Palky; Kelli Hromek; Daryl and Lynelle Schrunk; Shelley and Rose Bruha; Matt and Donna Hansen; Marvin and Lorraine Kohout; Mark and Judy Bors.

Dorchester area residents and friends of Dorchester are encouraged to send their donations for 2018's celebration to: 

First State Bank
4th of July Celebration
P.O. Box 264
Dorchester, NE 68343

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Countywide Flag Retirement Ceremony 6 PM Tonight

Flag Day is today, June 14.  

Make sure you take a moment to appreciate that piece of cloth and what it represents -- the sacrifices; the blood, sweat and tears; and ideals represented by the American flag. 

To mark this special day, the Dorchester American Legion, Post 264, will hold its annual Saline County flag retirement ceremony this evening.

The ceremony will begin at 6 p.m., with a covered dish dinner following the services. 

All area residents are welcome and encouraged to attend this very patriotic event.

Plan on coming early and bring your unserviceable American flags.  

Hundreds of flags are expected to be retired.

For more information, call Larry Kaspar at (402) 946-6711 or Rich Kasl (402) 946-7651.

In the meantime, please carefully read this poem.

Our Flag

by William A. Predeau






Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Filing Deadline Nears For Those Interested In Local Elected Office

So you're thinking about serving on the Dorchester Village Board or Dorchester Public School Board?

Even though the 2018 general election is months away, if you are considering running for local public office, it's time to get your campaign in order.

Three of Dorchester's five village board seats are up for election this year.  

The school board will also have three seats on this fall's ballot.

According to information we've been sent, those interested in running for office have until August 1 to file for office.  (If you already hold elected public office of any kind, you must file by July 16.) 

Here is who has filed for office so far:

VILLAGE BOARD (3 seats up)

* Dean Pracheil (incumbent)

* Tom Cerny

SCHOOL BOARD (3 seats up)

* Carol Schnell (incumbent)

* Steve Vyhnalek (incumbent)
* Matt Hansen (incumbent)

Those seeking election or re-election must submit the proper paperwork to the Saline County Clerk and Elections Commissioner.

Keep in mind we are not election officials.  Nebraska law is very confusing and it takes work to find out filing deadlines for the many various elected offices.  When we inquired with both the Secretary of State's office and the Saline County Clerk's office, there was confusion on the other end of the line.  Not good.  (Perhaps our state senators should address this instead of discussing wolf hybrids or horse massages. Or maybe the school and village websites could post notices on their homepages.)

Additional information can be obtained by calling the county elections commissioner's office at (402) 821-2374 or e-mailing

Monday, June 11, 2018

Source: New Ownership, Name Change Coming To Big T's Restaurant

The Times has been told via e-mail that Big T's BBQ Pit Stop, the restaurant and bar on Dorchester's east side, will undergo a change of ownership.

The new owners, who are local, could change the name of the restaurant, we are told.

Big T's opened in August 2016 in the same building that has housed establishments such as Ben's Iron Grill, Rough Reins, R Lounge, The Longhorn Saloon, Pit Stop, and Last Call Bar and Grill.

Back in July 2016, Big T's was approved for a liquor licence and for KENO operation by the Dorchester Village Board.  

It's unknown if the new owners will continue Big T's menu or try a different approach.

The resident we spoke with said he hoped the new owners and renamed restaurant get off to a successful start, to continue the string of Dorchester's recent positive developments.  

Shortly following Big T's opening, an October 2016 study by the Dorchester Times found Dorchester's weekend traffic on the village's three-block business district surged by almost 600% on Friday and Saturday nights compared to just six years earlier.  


Friday, June 8, 2018

Action Near Friend Last Night As Police Apprehend Colorado Woman

There was some excitement in western Saline County last night as a 2-year-old Colorado girl was found safely following an AMBER Alert being issued.  That according the Channel 7 in Omaha.

The toddler, Kyley Phipps, was reported missing from Thornton, Colorado around 7:20 p.m.

About a 90 minutes later, a Nebraska State Patrol trooper attempted to pull over a 2012 Nissan Pathfinder for speeding on Highway 6 near Sutton. The driver refused to stop and the trooper started pursuing it. 

During the pursuit, troopers identified the vehicle involved in the AMBER Alert out of Colorado, troopers said.  With the toddler in the Pathfinder, speeds during the pursuit reached 115 mph as the vehicle crossed into Saline County.  (Yes, people can be that crazy or under the influence.)

The Saline County Sheriff's Office put spike strips on the highway, causing the vehicle to stop near Friend.  Officers took the driver, Donetta Phipps, 46, into custody. She is the mother of Kyley.

Kyley was found safe in the vehicle.

Donetta Phipps is being held at Clay County Jail.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Advertise For Free At The Dorchester Times

Running a small business is hard work.  That's why the Times wants to help support Dorchester's local businesses.  

For a limited time, the Dorchester Times will run free advertising for businesses with a Dorchester mailing address.

Perhaps you have a new business and you want to spread the word.  Or maybe your established business is running a sale. Or a special for new customers.

Or maybe you just want to remind readers of your business and its place in our community.

If you'd like to take advantage of the Dorchester Times free advertisement offer, do the following:

E-mail a brief description of your Dorchester-area business.  Include contact information a phone number, e-mail and (if applicable) a website address.  Let readers know how to get hold of you and let them know why they should do business at your business. Be sure to note any specials or new promotions.

Please include a picture or logo with your e-mail so we can run that with the advertisement story. 

The Dorchester Times website averages approximately 20,000 hits every 30 days, so this free advertising offer is a great opportunity to reach potential customers.

We're so confident our free advertising will get you new business, that if it doesn't, we will refund you exactly what you paid for it.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Dorchester's Hot Housing Market Continues

You've heard about the great housing markets in Omaha and Lincoln.  But those are nothing compared to the smoking hot real estate market in the small town of Dorchester. 

Our village of around 600 cannot keep quality homes on the market for 24 hours.  In recent months, houses on Dorchester's Main Street and near the school were sold in less than 24 hours after their listing.  

We know of some private, non-listed home sales that have occurred since then.  Even when the Dorchester homes were fixer-uppers, they have sold.  

Look at some of the recent developments in Dorchester's housing market:
  • Remember the run-down vacant property on the corner of 9th St. and Jefferson?  Thanks to a civic-minded family of do-ers (and the Dorchester Fire Department) who cleared the property, the over-sized lot is now vacant and will soon showcase a brand new home, according to information we've received.  The new home could be up by fall.  
  • Many in Dorchester were surprised to see the fixer-upper at 713 Jefferson go on the market recently for $40,000.  However, we have learned that the sellers received close to what they were asking (very close, to be exact).  This serves as an example of what happens when property owners who don't or can't take care of their homes put them up for sale.  That home you don't have time and/or money for, someone else wants.
  • Another fixer-upper and longtime vacant home, this one at 508 Lincoln, was recently listed for $60,000.  We've noticed that an offer is pending and the home is considered sold.  More proof that homes just don't stay on the market long in Dorchester.
We don't know if it's the rising interest rates; the shortage of new housing; Dorchester's small-town appeal; the village's cozy feel; the quality community and K-12 school; the attraction of a safe and quiet town; or Dorchester school district's lower property taxes.  One thing is for sure, good homes are moving very fast in Dorchester. 

"Looks like Dorchester is in serious need of more housing," one of the recent home sellers said. "If you build it they will come!" 

Going forward, we encourage Dorchester's village leaders and private citizens to look for new and creative ways to encourage new housing, and find ways to encourage owners of vacant homes to put their properties up for sale or rent.  

The time is now.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Dorchester's Josie Slama Passes At 101; Services Wednesday

Dorchester's Josephine “Josie” Slama, 101, passed away on June 1, 2018, just a month short of her 102nd birthday. 

She was born on July 8, 1916, on a farm south of Pleasant Hill, Nebraska to Frank and Christie (Sipek) Belohlavy. She attended grade school in Pleasant Hill by walking over a mile across fields, sometimes crying from the cold. There were times during stormy weather her teacher didn’t come. The janitor would then start a fire so she could warm up before sending her back home. She attended Swanton High School and later graduated from Crete High School in 1933. 

Her future husband, Joe Slama, first asked her for a dance at the Cinderella Ballroom in Crete, but the music ended before they got to dance. Soon after, Joe drove to her farm and asked her to a dance near Columbus. They married in 1939 and eventually bought and moved to a farm south of Dorchester. In 1942 she gave birth to a son, Richard, in a house that wasn’t finished. There was no electricity or running water, yet she managed to make a great home for the family. There was the cow to milk each morning, large garden to care for, chickens to be butchered, eggs to pick, vegetables and fruit to be canned, jams to make, clothes to wash by hand, and sometimes soap and butter were made. 

At certain times during the year, there was hay to be made and she was the one that insured the 20 foot high haystack was built correctly so it would stand into the winter. She also helped pick corn by hand and stack bundles of oats. But there was always time to attend a dance at Tabor Hall, ZCBJ lodge No. 74, where she was a lifelong member, receiving her 50-year pin in 1989 and honorary membership in 2012. 

Shortly after marriage, she joined the newly formed Jes’Tus Extension Club and was an active member until the club ended in the 1970s. The 40 or so homemakers were devoted to learning the latest information provided by UNL Extension on cooking, sewing, and the many other skills homemakers needed. When the weather made roads impassable by car, they would use horses and wagon to meet at members’ homes. 

Her second son, Gene, was born in 1947. The Jes’Tus club then became more important to her than ever. She also became a member of the Dorchester Methodist Church. In the 1950’s she helped start and lead the Pleasant Hill 4-H club.  She specialized in entomology helping several youth get trips to 4-H Club Congress in Chicago. For retirement, Joe and Josie moved to Dorchester in 1970. One thing she enjoyed in retirement in the 70s was making and painting pairs of owls. Over 40 families received these owls and some still have them hanging in their homes. 

Her husband died in 1999 after almost 60 years of marriage. Josie then spent her days in Dorchester enjoying time with friends, gardening, and helping Gene maintain records of his purebred herd of Simental cattle. Eventually she broke a hip from a fall and spent the last couple of years in Tabitha of Crete, where she enjoyed time with the staff and other residents. 

She is survived by her sons and daughter-in-law, Richard and Dianne (Whittington) Slama of Lincoln and Gene Slama of Dorchester; grandchildren Mark, David, and Todd Slama and Michelle (Slama) Brummer; and seven greatgrandchildren. She was preceded in death by her husband Joe; parents; and brothers Robert and Joe Belohlavy and sister Anna Urban. 

Services will be Wednesday, June 6, at 10 a.m. at Kuncl Funeral Home with Pastor John Slama officiating. Soloist is Tim Javorsky. 

Visitation will be on Tuesday from 5 - 8 p.m. at the funeral home.  Memorials are to the American Diabetes Association. 

Interment: Wilber Czech Cemetery. Kuncl Funeral Home in Crete is in charge of arrangements.

To leave your condolences online, click here.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Area Rainfall Totals For June 2

Rain came to the Dorchester area in the wee morning hours of Saturday, June 2, soaking the village and surrounding countryside with much-needed moisture.

In town, Dorchester received about an 1.25" -- enough to reverse the drying effects from a very hot last week of May.

Here are the official area rainfall totals according to the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources' NERain website:

Dorchester -- in town:           1.24"
DeWitt -- 0.3 miles WNW:       1.21"
Wilber -- 7.0 miles WSW       1.16"
Tobias -- 4.7 miles SSW          1.02"
DeWitt -- 3.69 miles W            0.91"
Western -- 0.57 miles W       0.81"
Friend -- 3.4 miles E            0.78"
Seward -- 0.43 miles ESE 1.40"

Friday, June 1, 2018

Big Storms Could Hit Dorchester Area Tonight

(UPDATE - 8 a.m., June 2 -- The official Dorchester rain gauge shows 1.24" following this morning's storms, which brought small hail and strong winds, but also much needed moisture.)

This year, we've managed to avoid the nasty severe weather that spring typically brings in Nebraska. 

That could change tonight.

The Lincoln newspaper says that a swath of east-central Nebraska, including Dorchester, is at "enhanced" risk of severe storms overnight Friday, according to the National Weather Service.

The threats include 60-80 mph winds, hail, heavy rain, even a slight chance of tornadoes. 

According to AccuWeather -- the official weather source of the Dorchester Times --  there's a 100% chance the Dorchester area will get hit with "a few thunderstorms, some severe; these storms can bring flash flooding, large hail and damaging winds."  

Rainfall amounts could be over 2.1 inches in Dorchester.

The greatest chance for severe weather in this part of the state is from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m., with storms probably arriving in our area sometime after 9 p.m., the Weather Service says. 

In the meantime, Dorchester today could break the area's 1934 record for June 1 heat, which is 96 degrees.  Heat records have been falling rapidly over the past week.

Cooler temperatures are in store for Saturday and Sunday.

Humidity will also be lower over the weekend as we get a little break from the heat.

The weather service says Sunday will be sunny with a high in the low 80s. Monday through Thursday are forecast to be mostly sunny with highs in the low 80s to low 90s. There is a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms Monday and Monday night.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Longhorns Youth Football Camp, July 9-10

For Dorchester's future football stars, it is never too early to start brushing up their skills. 

This is especially important as football returns to DHS and Nerud Field this fall!

The coaches at DHS are offering young players in the Dorchester area a chance to improve their football game or -- if they aren't familiar with the game, learn the basics.

On July 9-10, DHS football coach Brent Zoubek will hold the Dorchester Area Youth Football Camp for boys going into grades 3 through 8. 

The camp will be held from 9:00 to 10:30 a.m. both mornings at Dorchester's Nerud Field, which was recently outfitted with modern, state-of-the-art lights.

The camp will introduce and reinforce some of the basic fundamentals of football.  Included will be: skill development; athletic fundamentals; drill work; position education; team time; and 6-on-6 passing drills.

The cost is $15 per player (make checks payable to Dorchester School). Both payment and entry form are due no later than the day of camp. Participants will receive a Dorchester Longhorns t-shirt.

For more information or to register, contact Brent Zoubek at (402) 418-1019 or 946-2781.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

NEWS ROUND-UP: DHS Grad Zoe McKnight Spotlighted By Lincoln Newspaper

Dorchester's Zoe McKnight Spotlighted by Lincoln Newspaper:  2018 Dorchester High School graduate Zoe McKnight has been named a "class act" by the Lincoln Journal Star.  The Longhorn alum was honored for placing at state journalism for three years in a row, as well as for making the honor roll for her entire high school career. McKnight graduated second in her class and was a member of the National Honor Society.  The daughter of Dawn McKnight and Mark Jernigan, Zoe will be attending the University of Nebraska-Lincoln this fall.  Our congrats to Zoe!

Only 85 Days Before New Era of DHS Football Kicks Off: A countdown clock on Dorchester Public School's website shows that only 85 days remain before the DHS Longhorns kick off a new era of football for the school. Dorchester has been without a football team of its own since 2013, as fewer enrolled boys in grades 9-12 and decreased participation rates raised questions whether a viable eight-man team could be fielded.  From 2014-2016, DHS co-oped with next-door neighbor Milford, a Class C-1 school.  But starting in late August, the Dorchester Longhorns will be back in the six-man form, as will games at Nerud Field.  For the 2018 season schedule, click here.

Crete Woman Found Dead; Apparently Fell Asleep While Smoking:  The Lincoln Journal Star says that an 80-year-old Crete woman was found dead Monday morning in her mobile home, according to Crete's fire and police departments.  Crete Volunteer Fire Department and Crete Police Department responded to a 3 a.m. report of smoke coming from the woman's home on 2200 Hawthorne St. Fire crews searched the house and found Jana Johnson dead inside. The Nebraska State Fire Marshal's Office believes Johnson fell asleep with smoking materials, resulting in her death. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Free Stuff Up For Grabs Now

Maybe you need a kitchen sink.

Perhaps some furniture? Or mailboxes?

An organ?

An outdoor grill? An electric stove? 

A TV or TV stand?

Maybe some plywood?

All of these items and more are up for grabs -- and they are all free.

The Times has scanned the "free" section of Craigslist for our readers.  Have a look by clicking here.

Just a legal disclaimer: The Dorchester Times is in no way affiliated with Craigslist or its users and assumes no responsibility whatsoever for the quality or lack thereof when it comes to the items listed or the people listing them. (Remember, you typically get what you pay for.)

Don't forget to check out what's for sale in the Dorchester area by clicking here.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Memorial Day Services at Dorchester, Pleasant Hill

Memorial Day weekend is fast approaching.  But do not forget the reason behind the holiday.

We should all take a significant amount of time this Memorial Day -- Monday, May 28 -- to  pay homage to the true meaning of this special day of remembrance.

Dorchester's Memorial Day program is a tradition in our area that we are proud to honor.  It is a heartfelt tribute to our fallen military heroes -- past and present -- who sacrificed their lives to protect our country and its freedoms.  

The Dorchester American Legion's Memorial Day ceremonies will be held at 10 a.m. at the Dorchester Cemetery, followed by an 11 a.m. service at the Pleasant Hill Cemetery.  

Ceremonies will be conducted by Dorchester Legion Post 264.  

Lunch follows services at Dorchester Legion Hall.

Why not attend and show your appreciation for the sacrifices that have secured your freedoms and quality of life as an American?

Friday, May 25, 2018

FLASHBACK: Three Years Ago, Gov. Ricketts Honored Dorchester's Pvt. Charley Havlat

(NOTE: This story was originally published three years ago in May 2015.)

On Thursday, May 7, 2015 -- exactly 70 years to the day that a Nazi bullet ended the life of Dorchester's Charley Havlat -- Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts stopped by our village and the Saline County Museum to honor Havlat, his sacrifice, his values and his hometown.

More than 125 attended the ceremony, including the Dorchester American Legion honor guard and Charley Havlat's surviving sibblings.

We're told Governor Ricketts gave a moving speech recognizing the ultimate sacrifice made by more than 400,000 Americans in World War II on VE Day.  

The governor also had strong praise for Dorchester and its sense of community, according to reports, calling the village "such a special place" that never forgot Havlat because its people care for one another, one witness said.  

The Omaha World-Herald was there to cover it, and here's how the World-Herald story captured yesterday's event:

In a sun-splashed ceremony after a night of thunder, lightning and torrential rainfall, Havlat’s hometown commemorated the 70th anniversary of the day he became the last American soldier killed in action in Europe during World War II.

Havlat’s reconnaissance platoon was ambushed by German soldiers on a dirt road in his parents’ native Czechoslovakia. The firefight erupted nine minutes after a cease-fire order and an armistice had gone into effect on the day — May 7, 1945 — of Nazi Germany’s unconditional surrender.

Havlat suffered a mortal head wound. Neither the American nor German soldiers were aware of the cease-fire until minutes later, according to accounts of the encounter.

Standing in front of the Pfc. Charley Havlat state historical marker at the Saline County Museum, Governor Pete Ricketts said Havlat’s sacrifice is a reminder that freedom is not free. “We’re here today to honor Charley Havlat,’’ Ricketts said, “but he wasn’t alone.’’

Ricketts said Havlat was one of 33 sons of Saline County — and nearly 3,000 Nebraskans — killed during the war.  Havlat’s sacrifice and the continued sacrifices of men and women who serve in the military have secured the freedoms Americans enjoy today, Ricketts said.

The 34-year-old Havlat represented the best of Nebraska, said the governor, who made a point to aim his remarks at approximately 30 Dorchester fourth- and fifth-graders and several high school students in the crowd.

“He was more than just a soldier,’’ he said. “He was a son. He was a brother.’’ 

The eldest of six children born to a Czech couple who immigrated to the United States in the early 1900s, Charley was one of three brothers to serve in the European Theater during the war.

Ricketts said Havlat was committed to his family and community. He said Havlat would roll a wagon wheel through snow outside the family’s house in the 1930s to try to convince his younger brothers and sisters that Santa Claus had actually been there.

Havlat’s surviving sister and brother — 95-year-old Lillian Mares of Seward, Nebraska, and 89-year-old Adolph Havlat of Lincoln — attended the ceremony.  Mares later prodded Ricketts about designating the eight-mile stretch of Nebraska Highway 33 from Dorchester to Crete as the Charles Havlat Memorial Highway. The State Highway Commission rejected a similar request in 2006. Ricketts said he was aware of the issue, and his administration is working on it.

Adolph Havlat was a soldier working in Supreme Allied Headquarters in Frankfurt when he received a letter from his parents in June telling him of his brother’s death. “That wasn’t good,’’ he said. “It was worse on my mom. Her first born. It was tough for her.’’

Adolph was granted leave to hitchhike from Frankfurt to join his brother, Rudy, a soldier with a tank unit, near Wallern (now Volary), Czechoslovakia, and visit Charley’s temporary grave. Adolph said the family didn’t know until about 20 years ago that Charley was the last GI to die in combat in Europe, which was reported in a Veterans of Foreign Wars magazine.

Never married, Charley worked as a farm hand and started a trucking company with his cousin, Lumir Havlat. They were hauling grain, rocks and salt up and down Highway 33 and throughout the region when Charley was drafted in 1942.

Charley is buried at Lorraine American Cemetery near St. Avold, France. A Czech military club has placed a memorial plaque at the spot he was killed. Ricketts proclaimed Thursday as “Charles Havlat Day’’ in Nebraska.

Adolph said he and Rudy paid for a bouquet to be placed on Charley’s grave every Memorial Day for years.“It seemed like it happened yesterday,’’ Adolph said. “But it’s been 70 years. That’s a long time. Where did that 70 years go?”

Monday, May 21, 2018

Dorchester Alumni Banquet, After-Hours Party This Saturday Night

This Saturday, May 26, Dorchester alumni -- young and old and in-between -- will gather to recall the good times and celebrate the school that gave them their start in life.

The 2018 Dorchester Alumni Banquet will be held at the DHS gym.  

Doors will open at 5 p.m. and the banquet will start at 6 p.m.

To register or for more information, call Linda at the school at 402-946-2781 or e-mail  Or call Amanda (Johnson) Nohavec at 402-480-0314.

Classes ending in "8" will be honored.  

Guest speaker will be former DHS business teacher Kay Knapp (also known as Miss Schropfer to former students).  

There will also be a special fundraising auction of the Longhorn Bucket.

For those who'd like to carry on their conversations beyond the banquet, the Dorchester American Legion will be open after the banquet with a cash bar and entertainment.

For those of you who cannot attend but would like to contribute to the Dorchester Alumni Association, send your donations to: 

Dorchester Alumni Association
P.O. Box 7
Dorchester, NE  68343

Friday, May 18, 2018

New Study: Happiest People Live In Small, Rural Towns

If you're happy and you know it -- you're probably living in a small rural community.

A new study by the Vancouver School of Economics and McGill University in Canada analyzed 400,000 responses to surveys regarding people's well-being in more than 1,200 communities representing Canada's entire geography.

The researchers asked: Are happier communities richer, for instance? Are the people there more educated? Do they spend more time in church?

Their chief finding is a striking association between population density -- the concentration of people in a given area -- and happiness.  

When the researchers ranked all 1,215 communities by average happiness, they found that average population density in the 20% most miserable communities was more than eight times greater than in the happiest 20% of communities.

"Life is significantly less happy in urban areas," the paper concluded.

So what makes the happiest communities different from all the rest? 

Aside from fewer people, the authors found that the happiest communities had shorter commute times and less expensive housing, and that a smaller share of the population was foreign-born.  They also found that people in the happiest communities are less transient than in the least happy communities, that they are more likely to attend church and that they are significantly more likely to feel a "sense of belonging" in their communities.

It may seem contradictory that greater happiness is correlated with both lower population density (implying fewer interpersonal interactions) and a greater sense of "belonging" in one's community (implying stronger social connections). But a significant body of research shows that having a strong social network is key to well-being. Some studies indicate that small towns and rural areas are more conducive than cities to forming strong social bonds.

Perhaps even more surprising are the factors that don't appear to play a major role in community-level differences in happiness: average income levels and rates of unemployment and education. People may move to cities for good-paying jobs, but the study strongly suggests it's not making them any happier.

These findings comport with similar studies done in the United States, which have revealed a "rural-urban happiness gradient:" The farther away from cities people live, the happier they tend to be.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Dorchester's 2018 Home Improvement Awards

Readers may remember that last autumn, the Dorchester Times named three properties on the west side of Dorchester as recipients of our 2017 Home Improvement Awards.

Today, we bestow our 2018 Home Improvement Awards on two homeowners with properties on Dorchester's east side.  

Both of these Dorchester homes have seen dramatic improvements -- one over the past several years and one more recently.  

We at the Times think these property owners need to be heralded and celebrated for investing in their homes and their community.

The East Side Home Improvement Awards for 2018 go to:

Washington Ave. and East 10th St.: This home is currently undergoing one of the more impressive home improvements we've seen in some time.  The owner took an already solid home -- and one of Dorchester's most historic homes, since it belonged to the well-known Dr. Panter -- and has given it an eye-catching makeover.  Both exterior and landscape improvements have slowed traffic driving past this home in recent weeks.  Kudos to these proud Dorchester residents for owning and renovating a great place!

East 10 St. and Lincoln Ave.: This renovation deserves recognition throughout the state.  Those who has driven on East 10th Street over the past few years have noticed the impressive restoration of one of Dorchester's most historic homes -- the transformation of the former estate of Dorchester pioneer W.J. Thompson.  This 3,000 sq. ft. home, built in 1901, is an intriguing piece of Nebraska's past as it was the site of Dorchester's famous Elmwood Pony Farm, reportedly the largest pony farm west of the Mississippi.  The mansion is now home to Dorchester's The Well, which offers alternative and holistic health services and products, including massages, aromatherapy health, essential oils, soaps and lotions, crafts -- even yoga class.  What's old is amazingly new again!

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

American Pickers Set To Film In Nebraska

Do you have a massive antique (or junk) collection you'd like to show off? You might be in luck.

The TV show "American Pickers" is set to film in Nebraska. 

And Saline County could be one of the stops, if the right treasure trove awaits.

A press release says Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz will be coming to Nebraska during early summer.

“As they hit the back roads from coast to coast, Mike and Frank are on a mission to recycle and rescue forgotten relics. Along the way, the pickers want to meet characters with remarkable and exceptional items. The pair hopes to give historically significant objects a new lease on life, while learning a thing or two about America’s past along the way,” the release says.

If you have a large collection of antiques, the two could spend the better part of a day looking through, they ask you to send them your name, phone number, location, and description of the collection to or call 855-old-rust.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Dorchester's Makenna Bird Gets Spotlight In Lincoln Newspaper

Photo by Lincoln Journal Star
The Lincoln Journal Star this past weekend shined a bright spotlight on new Dorchester graduate Makenna Bird.

The story points out that Bird was a standout volleyball and basketball player at Dorchester with a 4.0 GPA.

The following are excerpts from the Journal Star's article:

Graduation was this weekend, and it was (Makenna) Bird, the valedictorian, delivering the class' farewell speech. It was a fitting finish for Bird, who accomplished so much in four years.

"I think when I was younger I always looked up to girls that I just saw with a lot success in high school, and I said, 'Oh, I want to be that person,'" said Bird, who graduated with a 4.0 grade-point average and ranked No. 1 in her class. "I wanted to be in the yearbook on more than one page, and I wanted to make a difference in my school and realize when I leave, to actually make a mark."

Bird left her mark by getting involved. Very involved.

Bird was a standout on the volleyball and basketball courts, but her hand prints could be seen all over school. Bird said she was involved in 12 clubs or groups at school, including Future Business Leaders of America, student council, quiz bowl, One Act, among others. She was student council president, FBLA president and homecoming queen.

Why so many clubs? For Bird, it's important to keep an open mind.

"I like to expand my horizons," said Bird, who will attend Doane next fall. "When I started my freshman year, I kind of wanted to try everything and I ended up liking a lot of it, so I just stayed in it."

Bird's expanded interest levels and curiosities also spilled into the classroom. Just this year, she took government, English, journalism, band, art, sociology, pre-calculus, anatomy and physiology.

For Bird, academic success breeds success in sports.

"Keeping my mind working, especially practicing that growing up, working my mind in different ways in academics, and then I get on the basketball court, and I can think about all the different ways to do something or where to be at (on the court)," Bird said.

Bird credits her academic and athletic success to her family, teachers, coaches and teammates.

"They have encouraged me in everything I do and have been right by my side through it all, and I can't thank them enough for it," she said.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Dorchester's Lots For New Homes Could Be Helped By TIF

UPDATE:  We have heard from several reliable sources that Dorchester town leaders and landowners are looking at options to attract new housing, especially on the outskirts of town and in existing available lots.  One particular area is just north of Dorchester's village limits in what is currently a corn/soybean field surrounding the home of the W.J. Plouzek family. And that effort may have just gotten a boost, according to a reader who has inside knowledge of state government.  According to conversations our staff has had with at least four town residents, the Dorchester Village Board is looking at options to use something called "tax increment financing" (TIF) to provide an incentive to build new homes.  Of course, there would have to be sufficient interest in building at least a handful of new homes and a commitment to build at least a handful.  But according to an e-mail we received, that interest may be sparked more easily now that Gov. Ricketts has signed into law LB496 allowing TIF to support the construction of workforce housing. The new law will lower the cost of building new, making new construction more feasible in small towns.  The bill authorizes rural communities -- in counties with fewer than 100,000 inhabitants -- to include the construction of single-family or multi-family housing as part of a redevelopment project eligible for TIF.  Workforce housing under the new law is defined as "owner-occupied housing units costing no more than $275,000 to build, or rental housing units that cost no more than $200,000 to build," according to the e-mail we received.  Below is a 2017 Times story that may tie into this TIF development.  Stay tuned.

A reader recently e-mailed the Times, thanking us for reporting when homes were listed for sale in Dorchester.

But he also took us to task, writing, "Since Dorchester's real estate market is so hot, why don't you tell folks about available places in town that are ready for new homes to be built?"

We challenged the reader to tell us of any available lots in town -- and he responded by giving us three locations.

For those who are considering building in Dorchester, here are the options according to our reader:
  • EAST, NORTHEAST DORCHESTER:  We are told that Jack Bruha has housing lots available for new construction east of Fulton Street and Jackson Ave., as well as north of 10th Street.  This is a pretty part of the community and one of most peaceful.
  • NORTH DORCHESTER: We were also informed that Ron Zoubek has a handful of lots in north Dorchester just off of 11th Street and north of the football field.  This is a very nice neighborhood and allows for quick access to the school and Highway 6.
  • FAR SOUTH DORCHESTER:  If you don't want cars driving past your home often, there are at least four lots available for new construction on Whitmar Street in south Dorchester, south of the museum grounds.  Bob Kasl has them for sale on this dead-end street in a well-kept and quiet neighborhood buffered from the highway by the county museum grounds.
The Times did not investigate any of this information.  We are simply passing it on since it comes from a well-informed and trustworthy resident.  Those interested in these lots should contact the owners directly, not the Times.  Of course, not only would the land need to be purchased, but the village government would need to approve the construction and provide the water, sewer and electricity to the new home.

As we've reported recently, with demand for small town life growing fast, Dorchester cannot keep quality homes on the market for 24 hours.  This comes as no big surprise since Dorchester has a lot going for it -- if you prefer living in a safe, friendly and affordable community that has much potential for the future. 

If you're ready to call Dorchester home, we encourage you to take a look at these lots and consider building in our community.