Monday, December 31, 2007

Residents Take Part In Dorchester Caroling

The "Nurture Outreach Witness Committee" of the Dorchester United Methodist Church organized Christmas caroling a few days before the holiday. Our thanks to Carol Olson for sending us the accompanying picture of the Dorchester carolers. (Click on photo for larger view.)

Seventeen children and adults combined their voices for an hour of singing. The committee sends its thanks to Phil and Bernice Weber for the use of their flatbed trailer and to Georgie Kasl for adding the straw bales and for pulling the trailer.

According to Olson, better weather couldn't have been ordered as the temperature was above 30 degrees with no wind.

"Hopefully the people who were randomly serenaded enjoyed the little touch of holiday cheer," Olson said.

Hot cocoa and a variety of cookies left by the United Methodist Women were enjoyed after the carolers returned to the church.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Dorchester Residents Thanked For Contributions To Holiday Food Program

Eight Dorchester area residents are being recognized for their volunteer work with the Crete Cares program.

Last Saturday, Dec. 15 -- despite the cold, wet conditions -- Don Eret, Sandy Rains, Doug Feeken, Dorchester United Methodist Church Pastor Baptista, Wayne and Velma Hansen, and Steve and Vicky Parks delivered food boxes to Dorchester families on hard times, as well as fruit baskets to honor area senior citizens for their longtime contributions to the community and county.

A special thanks was sent to John Bruha and his staff at the Dorchester Grocery for packing the boxes and baskets. Also, Crete Cares thanks the Dorchester residents and organizations who donated financially to Crete Cares, as well as Farmland for donating hams, and the Crete Area Ministerial Association for including Dorchester in this very worthwhile cause.

Contributions to Crete Cares can still be sent to: Crete Cares, P.O. Box 343, Crete, NE 68333.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Carol Olson Is Our 'Citizen Of The Year'

The Dorchester area has many movers and shakers. So last month, we asked Times readers to send us their nominations for the Times' Dorchester Citizen of the Year.

Over the past 30 days, we have received the names of many people who deserve recognition for their work to improve their neighbors' quality of life. Unfortunately, we can give the award to only one person.

The 2007 Times' Citizen of the Year award goes to longtime Dorchester resident Carol Olson. Carol is the president of the Dorchester Area Community Association (DACA) and the community foundation. She is also active within the Dorchester Methodist Church and other organizations; she is the Plymouth office manager for Farmers Cooperative, headquartered in Dorchester.

One reader who nominated Olson told us: "I’d like to nominate Carol Olson ... I know of no one who works as tirelessly and enthusiastically as Carol on a multitude of projects to better the community of Dorchester. She’s skilled at working with people and providing leadership, and is experienced and talented at engaging others in teamwork to accomplish goals."

Carol told the Times: "I believe the Lord gives us tools and opportunities to accomplish much, and if our minds are open to listening and following, there is much to be done. Though I appreciate this award, it must be noted that one person cannot accomplish very much -- but teamed with the many good people of this community, there is much that can be done. So I accept this award for everyone who has done something to make Dorchester a better place to live." Our congratulations to Carol, as well as other residents who were nominated. To see the list of nominations and comments, click here.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Redinger Named Next Superintendent Of Dorchester Schools

First, we wish all our readers a merry Christmas. Also, a reminder that tomorrow we will be naming our "Citizen of the Year."

We also want to provide an update to our readers who have not yet read the minutes of this month's Dorchester School Board meeting.

Dorchester Public School principal Brian Redinger has been appointed as superintendent for the 2008-09 and 2009-10 school years. At the Dec. 19 school board meeting, a 6-0 vote by board members paved the way for the leadership change that will occur at the end of the current school year.

The Times has not received word on whether a new principal has yet been hired or if there are candidates for the position.

In other developments from the Dec. 19 meeting, Dorchester parent Deanna Sand presented a fundraising idea to use the bricks from the 1927 school building after it is razed in May 2008. The school board gave its approval and designated Sand to lead the committee in charge of the fundraiser. Superintendent Don Pieper plans to visit with local auctioneers and form a committee to oversee the school auction planned for May 9, 2008. The auction will feature items from the old school building.

Dorchester Area Community Association (DACA) president Carol Olson asked board members about the concept of combining the community and school libraries in the new school building, scheduled for completion in September. School officials agreed to inquire on the feasibility of the idea with the architects overseeing the school renovation, and to follow up with Olson following the consultation.

School board members running for re-election in 2008 have until Feb. 15 to file their paperwork. The next school board meeting is scheduled for Jan. 14 at 7 p.m.

Friday, December 21, 2007

News Briefs: Chuck Parks Earns 100th Win At DHS

  • Parks Earns 100th Wrestling Win: Chuck Parks, a senior at Dorchester High School, won his 100th wrestling match at the Sutton Invitational on Dec. 20. Chuck is the son of Dave and Donna Parks. Our congratulations to Chuck on this impressive feat.

  • Easley Graduates from SCC-Milford: Dorchester High School graduate Garret Gene Easley was one of several students who received their degrees from Southeast Community College-Milford held Dec. 14. Easley received his associate of applied science degree with a focus on welding technology.

  • New Utility Poles Tested Near Dorchester: A company headquartered in Seward is creating power poles that will bend rather than break during ice storms -- and Dorchester is the lastest community to benefit from the innovation. According to KETV Omaha, Laminated Wood Systems has been testing the oddly shaped utility poles outside of town. "What you will notice about the poles is they are rectangular in shape," said company Vice President Doug Kotil. "It's not going to fall down where a round pole possibly could." Kotil said the poles get their strength as boards are spliced together, then glued -- similar to beams seen in some churches and buildings. The result is a pole that can better battle wind and ice. NPPD installed 1,100 of the laminated poles following last December's ice storm.

  • Did you know?: Here's a bit of trivia for Dorchester residents and natives. Our community can claim a U.S. congressman as one of its own. According, Fred Gustus Johnson, who was born near Dorchester in 1876, was a U.S. congressman who represented Nebraska's old 5th District from 1929-31. Johnson, a Republican, also served as a state senator from the Hastings area, as well as lieutenant governor of the state. Johnson passed away in 1951 and is buried at Hastings' Parkview Cemetary.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Sights From Santa's Visit

Santa Claus may be coming to town, but he has already paid a visit to Dorchester this holiday season.

On Saturday, Dec. 8, Santa arrived at the Dorchester Community Building for the Dorchester Area Community Association's "Morning with Santa" event. With help from the students in FBLA, there were crafts and other activities -- including decorating of sugar cookies, making bead bracelets and bookmarks, making picture frames and more. About 60 area children attended the event.

Also, the Dorchester Legion served a breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage and toast from 10 a.m. to noon that morning. DACA recognized the following for donating money: Farmers Cooperative, Jolly Doers, United Methodist Women, Wal-Mart, Corrine Tyser, and Maxine & Arnold Filipi. DACA also thanked the FBLA students and their sponsors, Kathy Ricenbaw and Joyce Karl. Here are images from last Saturday at the Community Building:

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Wanted: Community Calendar Events

The Times wants you to send us events for our community calendar, located in the left column of the Web site. Just e-mail us the date, time, and location, along with a few details, to

We'll publish your event so that all Times readers save the date.

Also, we are still welcoming all letters to the editor. Just remember that actual names must be attributed to the letters for them to be considered for publishing. The Times will not print letters mentioning or referencing a specific individual, or containing explicit language or slurs. The Times also retains the right to edit letters for clarity or content.

Monday, December 10, 2007

DHS Students Earn $550 By Picking Corn

We at the Times continue to be impressed by the generosity of those in the Dorchester area community.

Last month, Tony and Judy Schweitzer allowed Dorchester High School students to pick up corn that had been toppled by wind and adverse weather. DHS alumni and parents Donna Parks and John Bruha initiated the project as a way to earn money for the DHS juniors and senior classes.

On Nov. 3, the group gathered corn for more than four hours. When all was said and picked, three grain wagons had been filled by the nine seniors and seven juniors who participated.

Following the Nov. 3 corn picking event, DHS senior Andrea Hansen convinced her father, Matt, to donate downed corn in a field west of town. So the group put their corn picking skills to work again on Nov. 9, filling two trailors that day -- and yet one more on the Nov. 10.

Parents and other supporters that helped the juniors and seniors in the effort include: John and Rochelle Bruha, Donna Parks, Judy Bors (along with Clarrisa
Bors), Brenda Inderlied, Marvin Kasl, Lisa Wells, Janet Alphabeck, Pam and Larry Burrows. Brad Kasl provided use of his combine so the group could husk the corn.

Nearly $550 was raised by the corn pickers. The profits will be split by the junior and senior classes, based on the number of class members who participated. Photos are courtesy of Donna Parks.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Questions Abound Over School Cornerstone

Earlier this year, we posed the question: Does Dorchester have its own 'National Treasure'? That 2004 movie -- which will boast a Dec. 21 sequel -- revolved around a treasure chest hidden by U.S. leaders during the Revolutionary War. In the movie, the story's characters relied on clues from the Founding Fathers' ties to the Freemasons.

Our question arose after longtime Dorchester School employee Ronald Sehnert alerted the Times that there might be some interesting items in the Dorchester school cornerstone, located in the southeast corner of the 1927 building. According to several older Dorchester residents we spoke with, many think that some of Dorchester's founding fathers may have placed items in the cornerstone during the construction of the building.

The Times has now received some firsthand accounts regarding the school cornerstone. According to resident Don Eret, the June 2, 1927 edition of The Dorchester Star contained the following notice: "The Grand Lodge of Nebraska Ancient Free and Accepted Masons will lay the corner stone of our new school house next Friday afternoon at 2:00 pm, June third. Everybody welcome."

Eret also reports that page 3 of the June 9, 1927 edition of The Dorchester Star reports:

The cornerstone of Dorchester’s new school building was laid last Friday
afternoon by the officers of AM Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of
Nebraska. Most worshipful Grand Master Edwin D. Critan of Chardron
conducting the ceremony, assisted by a large number of Masons from neighboring
lodges and Doric Lodge No. 118 of Dorchester. The address was delivered by
Charles M. Shepherd Grand, orator of the Grand Lodge of Lincoln. The Shrine Band
of Lincoln furnished the music for the occasion. Although the weather was
threatening, there were a large number present to witness the exercises.
Eret said he doubted there is anything inside the cornerstone. However, the Times has again asked a handful of other older town residents about the issue. They concur there is a strong possibility that some items are in the cornerstone.

As we noted in our
September story, the Dorchester Masons, who were extremely active in the early 1900s, met on the second floor of the building that now houses Village Hall. According to the Masons' own Web site, "the Freemasonry is the oldest and largest worldwide fraternity dedicated to the Brotherhood of Man under the Fatherhood of a Supreme Being." The organization dates back to the mid-1600s.

For centuries, Freemasonry has attracted criticism from many church officials for supposed competition with religion, and has long been the target of conspiracy theories that its members are the center of world power. It is unknown whether Dorchester still has active Freemasons in its ranks.

What is known, however, is that Dorchester residents will wait until May to see what relics, if any, were placed in the Dorchester school cornerstone 80 years ago.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Central Neb. Town Tries To Lure Back Former Residents

The community of Kearney is undertaking a serious effort to bring back former students and residents to the Buffalo County area. It is a model we think Dorchester leaders need to consider.

The Kearney Hub reports the Kearney Chamber of Commerce recently mailed 5,000 postcards to high school alumni from Kearney, Ravenna, Gibbon and Minden. The postcards promote the Kearney area as the ideal place to live, work and raise a family, and encourage alumni to consider job opportunities “back home,” said Bruce Blankenship, chair of the chamber workforce committee.

The first mailing — which included a holiday theme and photo of Santa’s Cottage in downtown Kearney — was mailed Thanksgiving week. Four additional mailings are planned in 2008. “We actually stole this idea from Norfolk, which has had a lot of success in using mailings to get graduates to return to that area,” Blankenship said. “We are trying to plant a seed with former residents and let them know we care.”

The postcards include a link to the chamber Web site, which includes a newly developed “Employment Opportunities” page that displays information on area job openings. “They already know what they’ll find here," Blankenship said. "We just want to let people know that Kearney would like to see them come back to the area.”

Monday, December 3, 2007

Jan. 12 Fundraiser For Aaron Stutzman

The Times has been informed of a planned January fundraiser for Aaron and Missy (Velder) Stutzman, both graduates of Dorchester High School.

According to our sources, the event will be Saturday, Jan. 12, 2008, at the Seward Ag Pavilion located at the Seward County Fairgrounds.

Earlier this autumn, Aaron was diagnosed with stage three cancer and is currently going through chemotherapy as often as five days a week. The fundraiser will help the Stutzmans with medical bills.

On Jan. 12, a noon meal will be served from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. with a free-will offering. Following lunch, an auction will begin at 1:30 p.m.

Items for the auction will include: a family weekend get-a-way package; a meal for a family of four; a Mexican dinner once-a-month for a year for six people; NU basketball tickets; antiques; home furnishings and DecorHorse – a five-year-old paint mare; and a huge selection of services.

According to a handout, this list of auction items is just the beginning and many more items will be announced at a later date.

All proceeds will be given to the Stutzman's to help with medical expenses not covered by their limited insurance.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Santa Visit, Legion Breakfast Next Weekend

Santa Claus is coming to Dorchester next weekend! And all kids -- if they've been nice -- are invited.

Santa will be arriving at the Dorchester Community Building at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 8 and stay until 11 a.m. The Dorchester Area Community Association, with help from the students in FBLA, will be offering crafts and activities -- including decorating sugar cookies, making bead bracelets and bookmarks, having their picture taken, making a picture frame, and more.

Parents, bring the kids for a morning of fun. Also, the Dorcheter Legion will be serving a breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage and toast from 10 a.m. to noon that morning.

The breakfast is open to everyone who's hungry for a freewill offering. Make plans to attend.

Also, the staff of the Dorchester Times has noticed more Christmas decorations and lights appearing in and around town during the week.

We featured some of our favorite displays this week.
If you would like your display to be featured on our Web site, simply e-mail it to We hope to run another feature on Dorchester displays before Christmas. However, we need photos -- so send us yours today.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Bruha, Boller Receive All-State Honors

Our congratulations to Dorchester Longhorns' quarterback Brandon Bruha, who has been named to the Lincoln Journal Star's All-State football honorable mention list.

Bruha is listed as the 13th best in passing efficiency in all of Nebraska high school football during the 2007 season. The junior threw 98 completions in 199 attempts, compiling 1,024 passing yards and 10 touchdown tosses.

We also congratulate DHS volleyball standout Wendy Boller. Boller, a junior, was also named to the Journal Star's honorable mention list. No statistics on Boller were available online.

Meanwhile, the DHS basketball season tips off tonight in Exeter as the Longhorns battle the Timberwolves of Exeter-Milligan. The boys team has a slim but reasonably experienced roster headed by Bruha. The Lady Longhorns, under second-year coach Steve Fusco, have a young team with only one senior returning.
** UPDATE: 12/06, 8:30 a.m. **
On Dec. 6, Brandon Bruha was also named to the Associated Press' honorable mention All-State Football Team for Class D-1. Congratulations!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Hats Off: Dorchester High School Wrestling Team

The Dorchester Times sends a belated thanks to the 2007-2008 Dorchester High School wrestling team for their help in improving the appearance of our community.

This fall, the DHS wrestling team volunteered their time to paint the new Dorchester City Park shelter. The team, including coach Brian Redinger, spent hours painting the facility and did a great job.

We send the team our appreciation and our best wishes for the upcoming season, which begins Saturday, Dec. 1, at the Friend Invite, a one-day tourney.

Pictured are (back row): Brent Kasl, Jordan Inderlied, Lucas Apfelbeck, Chuck Parks, Russ Barak, Josh Inderlied, coach Brian Redinger; (front row) :Chris Gosselin, Adam Kahle, Jake Hedden, Jared Jensen, Jeremy Inderlied.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

4,000 Gallons Of Anhydrous Ammonia Spilled South Of Dorchester

The Lincoln Journal Star is reporting that about 4,000 gallons of anhydrous ammonia was spilled Saturday in Saline County, well south of Dorchester. The article states that officials believe someone intentionally opened the valves on four tanks north of Swanton, according to Saline County Emergency Manager B.J. Fictum. Two of the transportable tanks, the kind that would be pulled behind fertilizer applicators, were a quarter mile from the other two.

Anhydrous ammonia is stored as a liquid under pressure. When released to the environment, it becomes a toxic gas. Anhydrous ammonia is also a key ingredient in the illegal production of methamphetamines (meth).

“We believe it was criminal mischief,” Fictum said. “Fortunately, there were no residents in the path of the plume." Ammonia could be smelled three miles away and a cloud of fumes was visible near the site. “It’s a good time to warn people, if you smell ammonia and you see something that looks like a fog, don’t drive into it,” he said, because fumes could cause a car to shut down, and could injure passengers. The spill was large enough to be classified as a hazardous materials incident, Fictum said.

The tanks were owned by the Farmers Cooperative of Dorchester. Anyone with information can call Crime Stoppers at 1 (800) 345-3361 or the Saline County Sheriff’s office at (402) 821-2111. Also, we encourage farmers and retailers to read the many online sources that outline ways to secure anhydrous ammonia tanks.

Considerable Progress Being Made On School Project

Progress continues on the Dorchester School expansion and renovation project approved by voters on Sept. 11 this year.

On Monday, Nov. 26, the first steps were taken in constructing the walls of the new classrooms that will comprise the western portion of the newly renovated Dorchester Public Schools campus.

The accompanying photos of the first "pour" of the west classroom walls were provided courtesy of the school.

According to information received by the Times, the last pour is scheduled for Wednesday, Dec. 19.

A large construction crane is slated to come to the work site soon after Christmas.

At that time, the walls will be erected and workers will beginning framing the roof, removing casting beds, pouring floors and starting interior work.

Construction on the western portion of the project will be continue into the spring, as the gymnasium side of the school campus will be completely enclosed. Demolition of the 1927 building will go ahead as planned sometime in May of 2008. It is not yet known whether there will be any special events to commemorate the 80 years of education provided in the 1927 school building.

Monday, November 26, 2007

A Stroll Around Town: Christmas Lights

The holiday spirit is alive and well in the village! Take a stroll around Dorchester and you will already find some creative Christmas decorations.

It is encouraging to see so many residents are taking time to to display their holiday cheer, despite the fact that Dorchester experienced 78-degree temperatures only last week.

From one end of town to the other, friends, neighbors and passersby will have plenty of visual treats this Christmas season. Below are a few of our favorite Christmas displays that can currently be seen in Dorchester. (Note: Readers may click on each photo for a more detailed look.)

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Dorchester Couple Celebrates 40th Anniversary

The Nov. 18 Lincoln Journal Star's "Celebrate!" section noted the 40th wedding anniversary of Dorchester residents Larry and Bev Gish.

Larrry was a longtime teacher and coach at Dorchester Public Schools.

The special event was noted by the Gish's grandson, Creighton Gish of Lincoln.

A photo of Larry and Bev was featured, along with a note stating: "Grandpa and Grandma, congratulations on your 40th anniversary. I love you! Your grandson, Creighton."

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Vandalism In Crete Connected To Stolen Dorchester Car

The Lincoln Journal Star has reported that the Crete police and the Saline County Sheriff's Department are investigating vandalism that occurred at Tuxedo Park in Crete last weekend. A car reportedly stolen in Dorchester a few days earlier was found Saturday in the park. Hensel said the car had been used to vandalize fences, buildings and trees. Damage was estimated at a few thousand dollars.

Crete authorities are also investigating the theft of thousands of dollars worth of stereo equipment from cars at Doane College and Crete High School Saturday night. Crete Chief Steve Hensel said one vehicle was broken into at the college and three others at the high school.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Wanted: Dorchester's Person Of The Year Nominations

The Dorchester area has plenty of movers and shakers. Now it's time to call them out.

From business owners to school teachers, elected officials to organization leaders, our town and area community are comprised of many people who deserve recognition for their work to improve their neighbors' quality of life.

As this year's hourglass begins to wind down, the Times wants to know which Dorchester area resident has contributed the most to his or her fellow citizens in 2007? In other words, who should be named Dorchester's Person of the Year?

We want your nominations. Tell us who gets your vote for Dorchester Person of the Year -- and why he or she is deserving of the accolade. Nominations may be submitted at the comments section of this story or sent to us via e-mail at

The Times will officially name its Dorchester Person of the Year on Dec. 26.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Former DHS Shop Instructor Gene Sloan Passes Away

Former Dorchester teacher Eugene Sloan has passed away. Sloan, 80, was a longtime industrial arts instructor at DHS until 1989, when he retired from teaching. Sloan had lived in Fremont since 1994.

According to the Fremont Tribune, funeral services were today at the Church of the Nazarene in Fremont. Sloan died Monday at Fremont Area Medical Center. He was born Aug. 21, 1927, in Hastings and was raised in the Kearney and Lexington area. He served six years in the Army and Air Force.

Following his military service, he completed his General Education Development certificate (GED), then in 1960, received his bachelor’s degree in industrial arts from Kearney State College. He taught in Cody, Arthur, Lynch and Gibbon, and retired from the Dorchester Public School system. While living in Fremont, he did substitute teaching in Cedar Bluffs. Survivors include: his wife, Katie; a daughter, Katy Coleen Stenger (and husband, Marvin) of Colon; three grandsons; and three sisters. Burial was at Ridge Cemetery in Fremont. Memorials to Church of the Nazarene.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Crete Player Ineligible For 2007-08 Season

As a follow-up to a previous Times' story, the Nebraska School Activities Association (NSAA) ruled late Wednesday that former Crete basketball standout Marissa Kastanek must sit at least three months before she can play varsity competition for Lincoln Southeast High School, where Kastanek transferred late last month. The Times' post has spurred a flurry of comments from readers.

The Lincoln Journal Star reports the NSSA Board of Control ruled Wednesday that Kastanek must sit out "90 school days" before she is eligible for varsity competition.

The article continues: "The 90-day waiting period means the former Crete all-state junior guard will miss the 2007-08 basketball season, unless she plays on the Southeast JV team. Kastanek transferred to Southeast on Oct. 29. Her family moved into an apartment in the Southeast district, but still owns a farm just outside of Crete." The 5-foot-9 Kastanek committed earlier this fall to North Carolina State, and last season helped lead Crete to a 25-1 record and a Class B state runner-up finish.

As a side note, we will mention that Times' reader "Bob" made mention of this NSAA rule early in the comments on our original post.

More Than 67% Of Readers Want To Vote On Paving

According to an online poll conducted by the Dorchester Times, more than two-thirds of readers want to vote whether the village should pave the remainder of its streets. Approximately 70 percent of Dorchester streets are presently graveled.

The Times poll -- conducted Nov. 1-14 -- showed that 67.2 percent wanted to see the paving issue on the town ballot. Another 32.8 said they would prefer the issue not make its way to the polls. The poll surveyed 131 readers.

The Times has covered the paving discussion at length. Back in May, one of our reader uncovered two news articles from the summer of 1979, when the Lincoln Star covered Dorchester's paving debate.

Both articles are still available via our Web site. (Click here for article 1 and here for article 2.)

To date, the Dorchester Times has not taken a stance either for or against any town paving project. However, we continue to encourage Times readers to share their thoughts on this site, as well as with village board members.

Monday, November 12, 2007

News Briefs: School Expects Savings On Renovation

School News: It appears the Dorchester School renovation and expansion will cost less than originally estimated. According to the minutes from the Oct. 29 special meeting of the Dorchester School Board, lower interest rates will bring school district patrons a savings of about $132,000 on interest paid to bond holders who are financing the construction. The 20-year bonds, which will be issued this month, will hold an interest rate of 3.5% to 4.5% -- slightly lower than the 3.9% to 4.75% rates projected last June. The reduction in interest payments will be reflected on future levies, according to the minutes submitted by school board secretary Ron Kahle.

Village Board News: Village board members have approved a 35 cents-per-hour wage hike for city employees. At the October village board meeting, Dorchester Village Board members voted unanimously to enact the pay increase, which will go into effect immediately for four city employees. In other action, the board minutes reiterated that no open burning is allowed in town, and that leaves can be taken to the burn pile north of town. The board also approved a laundry list of city expenses and financial transactions, including the following:

  • Dorchester Library, Transfer .......................................... $2,277.31
  • Park Improvement Fund, Transfer ................................. $2,000.00
  • Shop Building Fund, Transfer ........................................ $5,000.00
  • Beatrice Concrete for Gravel .......................................... $2,114.15
  • JEO for Sewer Study ..................................................... $1,200.00
  • Micek & Crouch P.C. for Budget .................................. $3394.00
  • Village Emploees for Wages .......................................... $5,701.69
  • Blue Cross/Blue Shield for Insurance Coverage ............ $3,701.60
  • Business World Products for Supplies ......................... $772.98
  • Davidson Ins. Agency for Life Ins. for DVFD ............. $858.00
  • Davidson Ins. for Disability Ins. for DVFD ................. $2591.00

Friday, November 9, 2007

Looking Back: Dorchester's Early Churches

Today we look back some of the strongest pillars of Dorchester's early years -- its churches. According to the Dorchester Centennial history book, religion played a vital role in the lives of the people who settled Nebraska.

In the early 1870s, a small group of German immigrants who settled northeast of Dorchester formed the first organized church, an Evangelical congregation. Soon after, other rural churches appeared in the Dorchester area countryside, including churches of Methodist, Christian and Congregational denominations.

In the fall of 1872, Rev. W.D. Gage moved to Dorchester from Nebraska City. He conducted services in the old frame school house, which was the only public building in town. Meanwhile, in the West Blue Area northeast of town, a growing Evangelical congregation attended services in a log home until 1875, when a small church was erected for $450. Dorchester's first church building came in 1879, with the construction of the Congregational Church that stood one block north and one block west of the present post office.

In 1880, the Methodist Church building came to Dorchester after town residents went to Pleasant Hill and tore down the structure and hauled it back by wagon. The Dorchester Methodist minister at that time, Rev. John Armstrong, was "a spirited man" according to accounts and did not mind controversy. In fact, he was also an attorney whose clients included two saloon keepers in Dorchester, considered by some to be a "city of rum."

As Dorchester's population increased in the 1880s, more rural churches appeared in the area, including two churches southwest of town (both United Brethren) and one northwest of town (Evangelical). Another denomination mentioned in the Dorchester Star was the "Dunkards," who apparently had no permanent house of worship. The Dunkards baptised converts in Turkey Creek. Also, in 1884, a Baptist group was formed and they went on to build the First Baptist Church of Dorchester (pictured at right).

By the turn of the century, local churches were becoming stronger due to more population stability and financial prosperity. In 1904, a new Methodist Church was built (pictured above left); the building would serve the needs of the community until the turn of the next century, when the current Dorchester Methodist Church was built. Also in 1904, a new parsonage was erected for the West Blue Church northeast of town (pictured at top). In 1908, the Christian congregation also built a new church in town (pictured at lower left). It included a tank behind the alter, since the Christian faith practiced total immersion for baptism. Previously, baptism had been held at Turkey Creek or the Blue River. By the 1910s, the rural churches found it difficult to keep their doors open, as people were no longer isolated within their own small rural neighborhoods, thanks to automobiles and better roads.

Looking back at our area's earliest years, it becomes clear that many of the first settlers had few possessions, but carried a devout faith in God. Not only did that shared faith offer comfort and hope, but it also united them. More than 130 years later, the same can hold true for Dorchester residents.