Sunday, April 29, 2007

Survey: What Needs Immediate Improvement in Dorchester?

We want your feedback! The Dorchester Times is conducting its first-ever poll, as we ask our readers: What one thing in Dorchester needs immediate improvement?

Perhaps the streets? The commercial buildings? The school? Recreational areas? Housing? Something else? You tell us.

We do have a couple of rules. First, please list only one item -- the one you think must be prioritized. Use your vision and choose the priority you think will lead to other improvements to enhance the community's quality of life.

Also, only one response per reader, please.

We will publish the results Friday, May 4, and send the results to the city board. This is your chance to let Dorchester leaders and other area residents know your opinion. So tell us: What one thing in Dorchester needs immediate improvement? Just click the "comments" link below.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Alumni Banquet Set for May 26

According to Tom Scheffert -- who heads Dorchester alumni operations -- invitations for the annual Dorchester alumni banquet were mailed recently by the Class of 1987 and the Alumni Association. All Dorchester graduates are invited to attend this year's banquet on May 26.

The 2007 banquet will feature a special ceremony to recognize Dorchester's most recent undefeated football team from 1972, as well as all the players and students who Coach Jack Guggenmos mentored and taught during his tenure at Dorchester High School. According to Scheffert, the four year record compiled by Guggenmos from 1969-1972 stands at 29 wins, 5 losses and 2 ties -- an 81% win ratio.

Included in this year's banquet invitations is an update from the Dorchester Area Community Foundation, along with information on Dorchester businesses and local homes on the market. The Friend Sentinel is offering a 10 percent subscription discount for any alumnus who purchases a new subscription. Make plans now to see old friends and old classmates on May 26. For more information, e-mail Tom at

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Business Spotlight: Dorchester Grocery

Under new ownership, the Dorchester Grocery is getting great reviews. Customers are reporting the new owners provide excellent customer service, competitive pricing and a good variety for a small-town store. The store's meats are given especially high marks.

Dorchester residents should be thankful. In a recent Lincoln Journal Star article, the director of the Nebraska Grocery Industry Association said the number of independently owned grocery stores in Nebraska has dropped from 1,200 to about 600 over the past 15 years. Doug Cunningham, director of the Hometown Merchants Association of Nebraska, said small businesses need each other, and that a community’s school, its bank and its grocery store are particularly important. “If you don’t have a minimum of those things, it’s pretty hard to compete with other communities to bring economic development into your community,” he said. We could not agree more. Let's support our hometown merchants and thank them for the service they provide.

Coming Soon: Dorchester's Best

Be sure to visit the Dorchester Times frequently in the coming days as we feature a series on Dorchester's best -- the things that make our town special. From homes to businesses to other attractions, we will unveil our lists of the Dorchester area's top attributes.

To be fair and balanced, we will also offer our list of Dorchester's top challenges, things that must be addressed soon to ensure Dorchester's growth and improvement in the 21st century.

As always, readers are encouraged to leave their comments and suggestions following each story. And we hope you will urge your family and friends to engage in the discussion, too. Stay tuned...

Monday, April 23, 2007

New School Building is Topic of April 23 Meeting

Sources confirm that tonight's special meeting called by the Dorchester School Board will focus on the deteriorating conditions of the main school building, as well as options for new school construction. The main building was constructed 80 years ago in 1927. The meeting will be held at 8 p.m. at the Dorchester School. Your attendance is encouraged for this important meeting regarding Dorchester's future.
*** Updated 4/23, 3:30 p.m. ***
We have received additional details from Dorchester School Superintendent Alan Ehlers. According to an e-mail from Ehlers, a facility study was completed in January. The study provided four options for the school board to explore. The board has identified the option they feel makes the best long-term choice for the future. Ehlers said he encourages district patrons to attend the public informative meetings in May before making a predetermined position about the project. "The only true way to make that happen is through a vote of the people," Ehlers said. "Everyone that wants to vote should have an opportunity to do so."

Ehlers added: "As we begin the process of looking 30-40 years in the future, I ask you to reflect on the past and the benefits that the 1963 addition has brought to the many students that now call themselves Longhorn graduates. As the board looked at the future, past history indicated that the community had invested in new school additions about every forty years."
"Will we be known as the generation that allows future generations to suffer with below standard facilities -- or worse, a consolidated district that may cause the town to decline and send your tax dollars to another town/district?" Ehlers asked.
Ehlers said that district patrons who want more information about the proposed project or have questions should attend the public meeting or feel free to stop in and visit.
*** Updated 4/25, 8 a.m. ***
According to Superintendent Ehlers, Monday's meeting included an update from Steve Powell from Tru-Built, who gave a presentation on the design and construction of facility improvements of Dorchester Public Schools. Mike Ayars from Ayars and Ayars gave a similar presentation. Lee Kshywonis then held a discussion with the Board pointing out various attributes to consider when making a decision to hire a build-design team. After a brief discussion, Bors made a motion to enter into an agreement for design-build services with Ayars and Ayars, second by Hansen. Voting yes were board members Bors, Hansen, Kahle, Pracheil, Boller and Havlat. The motion passed 6-0. The board has entered into agreement with Ameritas (bonding agent) & Ayars & Ayars (design-build company). If the district proceeds with a project in the future, these companies will be involved. Ehlers encourages all patrons to attend the May 9 community meeting at 8 p.m. at the school multi-purpose room. See The Crete News for complete April 23 minutes.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

You Can Still Help With City Park Makeover

Though it has been in existence for only a few years, the Dorchester Area Community Foundation is making a positive impact around town. One of the Foundation's first goals was a makeover of the city park. After raising funds for a new park shelter and securing a matching grant from Nebraska Game and Parks, the Foundation is about to see one of its initial goals become a reality.

Construction of the new park shelter will occur this summer. But additional funds are still needed for extra items such as grills, sidewalks and picnic tables.

Your help is needed to complete this important Dorchester project. The Foundation is asking everyone with a Dorchester connection to purchase an engraved brick that will be incorporated into the construction of the shelter. The price for a 4”x 8” brick with one or two 16 character lines is $100, or three lines for $125; an 8”x 8” brick with one to six lines is $200 and a logo brick with print is $250. These bricks make wonderful, long-lasting memorials for loved ones, as well as thoughtful gifts for graduation, anniversaries or birthdays.

To order a brick, call DACF Chairperson Carol Olson at (402) 946-3531. Or e-mail Vice-Chairman Dale Hayek at If you want to see the bricks that have already been purchased, stop by the window fronts of north of the bank and north of the Westside Saloon (formerly Joe's Place). Buy a brick and lay a strong foundation for Dorchester's tomorrow.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Volunteers Needed for Trash Pick-Up Day

It's time to show your Dorchester pride. The Dorchester Area Community Association (DACA) will conduct its trash pick-up day Saturday, April 28. This will be held in conjunction with the Great Nebraska Trash-Off and the Nebraska Department of Roads' Adopt-a-Highway program. More than 6,000 volunteers across Nebraska are expected to participate in this statewide marathon of picking up roadside litter.

Arrive in front of the Dorchester Community Building shortly before 1 p.m. The trash pick-up will take place on Highway 33 from Dorchester to the junction of Highways 33 and 15, west of town. The Roads Department will supply orange vests and trash bags, but you are advised to bring a pair of gloves. There is no age requirement, although those under the age of 15 will need to be supervised. Come and help your Dorchester neighbors make our area even more beautiful.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Business Spotlight: Farmers Cooperative

Farmers Cooperative is the employment hub and economic engine of the Dorchester area. Still known to many of us as the Dorchester Co-op, Farmers Cooperative is a full service cooperative with products and services offered in energy, grain, feed, and agronomy departments. While the corporate office is in Dorchester, there are facilities in 35 other communities, including Beatrice, Denton, DeWitt, , Exeter, Fairbury, Fairmont, Milford, Pleasant Dale, Seward, Swanton, Tobias, Western, and Wilber.

Farmers Cooperative owns three feedmills, with the largest in Beatrice. The agronomy department operates several warehouses and a distribution system in DeWitt. The Cooperative also services local producers with several Flat-Out tire service trucks, multiple service stations, and a large product list of tires, batteries and other accessories. Total operating revenues are approximately $12.5 million, according to the Cooperative web site.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Local Attraction: Saline Co. Museum is One-of-a-Kind

The Saline County Museum, located off Highway 33 in Dorchester, has resumed its regular hours. The museum is one of best and most affordable (it's free) family attractions in southeast Nebraska.

Ten buildings are located on five acres of land, including a chapel, railroad depot, a one-room schoolhouse, voting hall, post office, log cabin, and an agricultural machinery building. The museum's most unique exhibit, "In Loving Memory", is located in the chapel and depicts the changes in the way early Nebraskans dealt with death and funeral customs. This exhibit is the only one of its kind in Nebraska.

The Saline County Museum is operated strictly by volunteers. Hours are Sundays, 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., and by appointment. While there is no admission fee, donations are accepted.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Dorchester Times Square?

Gone are the days of downtown Dorchester's monochromatic, manual marquee. For those who have not been to town lately, a larger, orange and black, electronic sign now graces Dorchester's business section. It replaces the baby-blue message board that stood on the median strip for decades.

The new marquee was installed several weeks ago. The electronic message board is slightly larger than its predecessor. In addition to displaying date, time and temperature, the new sign announces upcoming town events and special messages, including birthday greetings to residents.

We at the Dorchester Times thank the leaders responsible for bringing the new marquee to town, and we look forward to more improvements throughout town.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

School Board to Hold Special Meeting; Chrastil Retires

The Dorchester School Board has called a "special meeting" for April 23, according to the public notices published in The Crete News. The meeting will be held at 8 p.m. at the Dorchester School. Also, the School Board will hold two informative meetings, which the public is asked to attend, on May 2 at 8 a.m. and on May 9 at 8 p.m. No other details are immediately available.

The regular monthly School Board meeting will be May 14 at 8 p.m.

In other school news, it was reported that longtime social studies teacher and former football coach Raphael Chrastil plans to retire after the current school year. Our congrats to Raph Chrastil -- a great coach and all around mentor -- on his wonderful career. His dedication and loyalty to the students and residents of Dorchester makes Chrastil one of DHS' all-time greatest. His absence will be noticed throughout Dorchester Public Schools.

Friday, April 13, 2007

DHS Grad Nelson Earns All-Region Basketball Honors

The Newton Kansan reports that DHS grad Tana Nelson of Hesston College (Kansas) was named to the National Junior College Athletic Association Division II, All-Region VI team for the 2006-07 season. The 5'7" sophomore was named to the second team.

HC coach Joel Kauffman said Nelson averaged 9.4 points per game. During the team’s last seven games, Nelson averaged 16 points a game. “Tana Nelsen played out of position for us for much of the season because of all the injuries we had,” Kauffman said. “Because of that, she didn’t put up the kind of numbers she could have until late in the season.” Hesston went 18-11 this season.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

May 5 Party to Honor Pat Vyhnalek

On May 5, DHS alumnus Patrick Vyhnalek will be celebrating his graduation from UNL with a gathering at the Dorchester Community Center.

The event gets underway at 5 p.m.

Food and beverages will be provided. The hosts request that no gifts be brought.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Happy 100th to Dorchester-Native "Dutch" Lautzenhiser

The Ventura County Star (California) reports that Dorchester-native Leonard "Dutch" Lautzenhiser recently celebrated his 100th birthday. "From bootlegger to businessman," read the newspaper headline. "It's not many men who can say they have done everything from fur trapping to dental assisting, being gas station operator to owning a trio of stationery stores," read the newspaper article. "And, then, there were stints hoeing lemons, being a Fritos salesman, a telephone lineman and a bootlegger."

The centenarian celebrated with two parties, accolades from city and county officials and a spot on Willard Scott's NBC focus on 100-year-olds. He counts himself lucky to have his health and "the best thing that ever happened to me," he said of Sara, his wife of almost 79 years.

On Jan. 5, 1907, Lautzenhiser was born in Dorchester. He met his wife in Friend. They were married by a minister in Crete in 1928. According to his daughter, Lois Nadal, Dutch told Sara he was selling insurance. "He left the house each day with a briefcase in hand and then went on his way to buy supplies and mind the still." But at the height of the Depression, in 1937, the Lautzenhiser's moved to Ventura County, where they lived in the trailer for a time. Lautzenhiser went on to become a successful business man, with ventures that included owning and operating a gas station, as well as greeting card stores.

And what does Lautzenhiser think about having 100 years under his belt? "It's just fine," he said. Happy 100th, Dutch!

Welcome to the Dorchester Times

Welcome to the Dorchester Times. This site is dedicated to our town, Dorchester, Nebraska -- a peaceful little community in southeast Nebraska that is steeped in history and tradition. While we relish our proud past, we also enjoy the blessings of today and eagerly look forward to the future.

This site features the latest news, developments, historical perspectives and other information pertaining to Dorchester. We hope you will visit often. Whether you are a resident of Dorchester and the Saline County community, or are only visiting our site, we welcome your comments.

Thank you for visiting. And we look forward to seeing you in Dorchester soon.