Thursday, May 31, 2007
According to former Dorchester kindergarten teacher Susan Weber, 1996 DHS graduate Matt Burkey, son of Sid and Peg Burkey, has reached another milestone in his interesting trek since high school. Last week, Matt graduated from the medical school of John Hopkins University in Baltimore. For the next five years, he will be doing his residency in family medicine and psychiatry in Pittsburgh. Hopkins is one of America's elite universities, perennially ranked among the top 20 in the nation. We congratulate Matt on his impressive accomplishment.
If you know of other deserving DHS graduates who should be recognized in our "Where Are They Now?" series, send updates to Dorchester.Times@gmail.com
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
We were able to revisit the school debate of the 1920s, thanks to an old Crete News article sent to us by a reader (she calls herself "History Buff"). We wanted to share this story with our fellow Dorchester area residents. This Jan. 27, 1927 article provides a good history lesson in local civics, as well as the effects of inflation.
Crete News -- Jan. 27, 1927
'Dorchester Votes $78,000 School Bonds'
Proposal For New School Building Favored By Large Majority At Special Election
We are informed that Dorchester will erect [a new] school building and auditorium, to cost approximately $83,000, which will allow $5,000 for materials taken from the old structure. Dorchester maintains a 12 grade accredited school, with normal training, and we are pleased to note the progressive spirit which prompted the voters to sanction the building of adequate quarters for the continued growth of the school.
Sixty-four per cent of the voters of Dorchester said by their ballots last Friday that they were in favor of bonding the district in the sum of $78,000 for the purpose of erecting a new school building. This was more than the necessary majority.
The board of education at this time is composed of W. R. Stewart, Edw. Wade, E. M. Olds, Frank Mares, Mrs. H. C. Nelson and John Potter.
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Our flag flew proudly at the Dorchester cemetery.
Sunday, May 27, 2007
The Dorchester Times welcomes all readers' comments. Submit your letter-to-the-editor by e-mailing Dorchester.Times@gmail.com. Short letters are preferred. No letter should be no more than 300 words.
To be published, letters-to-the-editor must include the writer's actual name and nearest town. Published letters will be posted for at least three days. The editors of the Times may edit and condense submitted comments. Responses to letters may be submitted via other letters only -- anonymous blog comments in response to letters will not be published.
The results of previous reader surveys as well as job listings sent to us will appear near the bottom of the left column. Job ads will be posted for a month or until we are notified the job has been filled.
Friday, May 25, 2007
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Also, the board received a donation from the Connie Skrivanek Family Trust to be used as the school deems necessary. The girls basketball assistant position remains open, while the board approved a contract for Patricia Niemoth as the high school science instructor for the upcoming school year.
The next regularly scheduled board meeting will be June 11 at 8 p.m.
Meanwhile, as this weekend's DHS Alumni Banquet nears, Don Eret reports that several more out-of-town alums plan to attend. They include: Warren Miller, Jeanette August Logan, Patricia Pribyl Owen, Jean Beggs Kinnamon, Tom Busboom, David Busboom, Roger Schmidt, Tom and Sue Spanyers Shaw, Jeanne Boller, Superintendent Gaylen Johnson, Robert Havlat, Wayne and Donna Havlat Danekas, Robert Sandburn, Geraldine Parks Nelson, Anne Kovar Tridblom, Letha Sandburn Rardin, Principal Lowell and Teacher Rita Cooper.
Finally, we have received several requests from parents of current or future Dorchester students to publish the floor plans of the three proposals to renovate or replace the 1927 school building. So here is a recap of the architectural plans for the Dorchester School as presented by Archi+Etc. of Lincoln during the informational meeting held earlier this month:
Option 1(a): $1.8 million. This plan – the least expensive – would make minimum modifications to the 1927 building to bring it up to code. This would include the addition of an elementary attendance center and separate administration office space. Portable classrooms would be removed and new parking area away from playgrounds would be added.
Option 1(b): $2.6 million. The plan calls the full renovation of the 1927 building, including an “elevator for vertical accessibility.” A small wing for administration staff would be added to allow for supervision. Similar to the first option, a new parking area would be added and the portable classrooms would be removed.
Option 2: $3.98 million. The plan would completely revamp the school campus, with a new building to replace the 1927 structure and portable classrooms. New additions would surround the 1963 gymnasium. The additions would provide space for an elementary attendance center, an administrative wing for supervision, and modern rooms for high school classes.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
‘Paving Draws Protests From Some in Dorchester’
DORCHESTER – Putting in its first pavement since Main Street (Washington Street) was done in the 1930s, this community is deeper in controversy than concrete.
Anti-paving picketers have been walking the business district. Normally quiet village board meetings have drawn 40 to 50 spectators, both pros and cons. Protest signs have sprung up in at least three dozen yards.
And the biggest confrontation yet appears certain at next Monday night’s board meeting.
At this point only eight blocks of paving are actually scheduled and four others are just a step from formal approval. The main issue actually is the other 50 to 60 blocks of graveled streets and what the village board has in mind for them.
State law permits the creation of “gap paving,” mostly two block segments connecting other surfaced streets, so some property owners fear that virtually the entire town will be covered. They say many residents, especially the elderly on fixed incomes, can’t afford the improvements.
Mayor Bill Moser says the board does intend to fill all the gaps possible but that the total “wouldn’t be more than four or five blocks.” Of the five board members, only Dwain Tyser is aligned with the anti-paving group.
“People don’t seem to understand that this paving was put in at the request of people within each district,” said Moser, a 45-year-old cafe owner. When 60 percent or more of property owners sign for the front footage, “we’re bound by law to create a district,” he said.
According to Mayor Moser, the controversy has been building up over the pas two or three years. He noted that the board has kept its word by not creating any more districts on its own since trying unsuccessfully to run six blocks of paving from Main Street to the school.
A petition signed by 288 opponents had been presented to the board. Belva Johnson, who incidentally runs a restaurant just one door from Moser’s, has a current petition showing 124 signatures against paving compared to 15 for.
“I counted up 89 people in this town living on Social Security or fixed incomes,” said Mrs. Johnson. “A lot of them will lose their houses unless the paving is stopped.”
Her objections were amplified by rural mail carrier Ed Sandburn, Farmland Foods employee Bob Parham and retiree Sidy Bruha. They say an attorney has suggested either an injunction to halt the paving or a recall petition against four of the five village board members.
Parham, 25, said his remodeled house on four lots would be hit by about $5,000 in paving assessments. Taxes also would be raised on property fronting improved streets, he noted.
The objectors also allege “sloppiness” on the few blocks of paving already put in. And they claim the board is wrong in laying pavement without accompanying storm sewers.
The board has estimated the paving cost at nearly $21 per front foot. It has also indicated that intersections, to be financed as general tax obligations, would cost about $4,900 each.
“Just because the law says they can put in gap paving doesn’t mean its right,” said Sandburn. “The people should have a say.”
Although not as visible as the picketing opponents, spokesmen for a pro-paving group say they also will be out in force for Monday’s meeting. Businessmen Dick Sehnert and Joe Williams claim a backing of at least 110 citizens.
“It’s time somebody comes out in support of the village board,” said Sehnert, an auto body repairman. “The board shouldn’t be unfairly ridiculed and harassed when there are 124 people against paving and 110 for. People who want paving should have rights the same as those who don’t.”
Williams, an electrician, said he believes protesters have exaggerated the situation. “There might be a small percentage of people who would be hit real hard,” he said, “but I don’t feel we should stop progress.”
Monday, May 21, 2007
With a challenge like that, we at the Times will do one better. Not only will we brush up on our community history, we will share it with our readers. And thanks to a reader, we have uncovered news articles from the summer of 1979, when the Lincoln Star covered Dorchester's paving debate. Today, we are publishing one of those articles. The other will appear later this week.
‘Paving is Hot Topic in Dorchester’
DORCHESTER – What, in a town of 630 on a warm summer’s evening, does it take to get 120 people to a village board meeting? Paving.
That was about the only thing decided here Monday night as folks got together to discuss the only topic in town hotter than the temperature inside the community center.
With the group apparently split about 2-to-1 against paving, emotions soared during the two-hour session. Yet, almost like a family spat, nobody was called anything worse than his first name – which happened repeatedly.
Technically the session was called for the routine creation of three districts involving only four blocks of paving. But most of the argument centered on the “gap paving” that Mayor Bill Moser says they board probably will order in later.
The mayor says even the gap total probably will not exceed four or five blocks, but opponents fear it will eventually checkerboard most of the town. They contend numerous older people as well as young home owners will lose their properties if the paved segments are put in.
“I lived on a farm and walked in both dirt and manure and it didn’t hurt me,” said Belva Johnson, cafe owner and outspoken opponent of the $21-per-front-foot paving. “If it wasn’t for dirt, how many farmers could have come to town and retired?”
That was one of several comments drawing applause. But so did a remark by proponent and retired farmer Hans Weber that “dirt streets don’t bring people into town.” Paving is “good for the town,” he continued. "Name me one little town around here that doesn’t have paving.”
Several others echoed Weber’s sentiments, saying it should be within their rights to have paving if desired. Approximately 30 to 40 persons stood up when asked how many persons present favor surfacing.
Two young wives, Cindy Meyers and Sally Danekas, said their families would not have moved to Dorchester had they known paving – which would be the town’s first since the 1930s – would be contemplated.
This brought a retort from businessman Dick Sehnert who asked, “Where exactly would you have moved? There’s paving in Friend and Wilber and Crete, too...”
Attorney Merritt James of Lincoln, representing the Walton Construction Co., which has the paving contract, said the firm had been “unfairly chastised” by published remarks critical of the firm’s work. Both Mrs. Johnson and Sidy Bruha said they had received requests by letter but refused to change their opinion.
“The company feels that never in 40 years of doing business has it been so unfairly attacked,” continued James. He insisted that the complaints actually derived from job specifications to which the contractor is complying.
The board unanimously approved two of the three small districts, both created by at least the 60 percent of affected property owners required by law. Because of a legal description error, the third district will have to be re-advertised.
Sunday, May 20, 2007
Following her performance in the district meet last week, when she took first place with a throw of 113'5", Dorchester track coach Joshua Vacek told the Crete News that Lawver has "all the attributes a state champion needs" and that "she will win the girls state discuss before she is done here" at Dorchester. "I'd almost bet on it," Vacek said.
Congratulations, Karmen! Dorchester is proud.
Saturday, May 19, 2007
Thursday, May 17, 2007
Selected by the staff of the Dorchester Times, these are the things -- aside from the citizens, themselves -- that enhance our quality of life and make Dorchester the good, little town we call home.
Of course, like any other community, Dorchester has its challenges. All of us can name a few things we would like to change. Yet, we often forget to count our blessings and take for granted the things that make our community special.
So we thought it was time to list Dorchester's best attributes, the things that will provide the foundation for Dorchester's future, while continuing to make our community better today. And although we are naming only five key elements on this post, we realize there are numerous other qualities that make Dorchester a gem in the Cornhusker State. Readers should feel free to submit things we have missed.
Now, here is our list, in no particular order:
1.) Dorchester's Community Organizations -- Whether its the American Legion, the Legion Auxiliary, Tabor Lodge, the little league baseball and softball teams, the Saline County Historical Society, the Methodist Church groups, the Dorchester Area Community Association (DACA) or other organizations, our community groups are instrumental to the success of Dorchester. These associations are Dorchester's "movers and shakers" -- the citizens who want to get involved and make things happen. We want to pay special tribute to the Dorchester Volunteer Fire Department, which is one of the best small-town fire and rescue departments in the area. Whether responding to emergencies or providing the annual fireworks show, the DVFD leads by example.
2.) Dorchester School: As we have said before, as goes your school, goes your town. A school provides the heartbeat for any community. For example, look at this Web site. The majority of activity reported here is related to the school. Fortunately, Dorchester has a school of which we can be proud. Can you imagine life in Dorchester without the students? Without the sporting activities? Without the school plays? Without the jobs it provides? We cannot -- and we hope we never have to.
3.) Dorchester Methodist Church: Recently, one reader stated that the new marquee downtown was they only notable community improvement in years. We should have reminded him about the Dorchester Methodist Church. While we miss the old structure, we commend the visionary church leaders who had the foresight to plan and raise the funds for the new church building. Not only should church members take pride in their impressive house of worship, the congregation can be proud of its 125 year history in Dorchester. Throughout those years, the Dorchester Methodist Church has always looked after the needs of the entire community. We thank them.
4.) Dorchester Business Community: The hub of a community is its business sector. (Yes, we know that we have not pictured all of Dorchester's business below. We apologize.) As we wrote previously, most commerce can be conducted right here in Dorchester. Our businesses provide customer service and a personal touch that is difficult to find elsewhere. We hope that ten years from now, Dorchester's downtown is bustling with even more business activity. But for that to become a reality, Dorchester residents must appreciate their existing businesses by patronizing them whenever possible.
5.) Dorchester's Night Life: Forget Omaha! Forget Lincoln! Dorchester has one of the best social scenes in eastern Nebraska. Whether its enjoying the region's best prime rib, taking in a little karaoke, or getting together with friends at the Community Center, we are always impressed with the options the Village offers. Best of all, you can enjoy an evening out and still have cash left at the end of the night.
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Sunday, May 13, 2007
Thursday, May 10, 2007
Last night’s meeting was held to inform District 44 patrons about the deteriorating conditions of the school’s main building, built in 1927. All school board members except Bill Boller were present along with administration staff. Visitors were briefed on the facility study and presented three separate plans to renovate or replace the 80-year-old structure. Architect Christy Joy of Archi+Etc., a Lincoln firm, gave a PowerPoint presentation explaining the options and the costs involved. Afterwards, Ms. Joy fielded questions and students conducted tours of the facilities.
Two of the options being considered by Board members would provide the minimum maintenance required to bring the school into compliance with 2007 standards. A third option presents a more comprehensive plan, which would likely serve the school through 2050 or beyond.
• Option 1(a) carries a price tag of more than $1.8 million. This plan – the least expensive – would make minimum modifications to the 1927 building to bring it up to code. This would include the addition of an elementary attendance center and separate administration office space. Portable classrooms would be removed and new parking area away from playgrounds would be added.
• Option 1(b) is estimated to cost $2.6 million. The plan calls the full renovation of the 1927 building, including an “elevator for vertical accessibility.” A small wing for administration staff would be added to allow for supervision. Similar to the first option, a new parking area would be added and the portable classrooms would be removed.
• Option 2, the most comprehensive plan, would cost $3.98 million. The plan would completely revamp the school campus, with a new building to replace the 1927 structure and portable classrooms. New additions would surround the 1963 gymnasium. The additions would provide space for an elementary attendance center, an administrative wing for supervision, and modern rooms for high school classes.
The next regular monthly Board meeting will be 8 p.m. Monday, May 14.
Due to a post from reader Mike, we received several e-mails about taxes collected by both Dorchester School and City Hall. A Saline County comparison of taxes collected by school districts and cities can be found here. This chart is an eye-opener. For example, in 2005-06, the City of Friend, with a population of 1100, collected almost $300,000 in net property tax revenue, with another $150,000 coming from State Aid. Compare that to the City of Dorchester, which took in $90,000 in net property tax revenue and $62,000 in State Aid. That's a $300,000 shortfall when compared to our neighbor to the west. The majority of Friend's city tax dollars are not from agricultural property owners, unlike the school's revenue. Therefore, this comparison of the two towns presents the best case yet for Dorchester's need for economic development, business recruitment and new homes.
Wednesday, May 9, 2007
But even more, we look forward to hearing from you. After all, the success of this publication will be determined by our readers. (You can always leave a message by just clicking on the “comments” link after each story. Readers are encouraged to use a pen name instead of signing with “anonymous.”)
To celebrate our first 30 days, we looked back at some of the more notable comments left by readers. Some comments made us laugh, some made us cry, and some made us red in the face. But we published them all and tried to keep our opinion out of the mix.
So without further adieu, here are some of the more memorable reader comments from our first 30 days:
On Dorchester and the Times…
"This is a great start to promote a nice community. Dorchester is almost like 'Cheers', in that 'everyone knows your name' (if you grew up there)."
"Dorchester is the bomb digitity…"
"WILL SOMEONE PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE TEAR DOWN THE OLD CONNER'S GIFT SHOP & ROOFING BUILDING? AFTER 25 YEARS, IT AIN'T COMING BACK!"
"The grocery is a must have for every community. Thank you for keeping the store open."
"I would be ashamed to send friends to our downtown area in the shape it is in. Look how many people come to our July 4th celebration; it is just as good if not better than most community events around here. However, what does the appearance of the buildings say about us?"
On Proposed Improvements…
"We certainly could make a long list of improvements that need to be made. At the top of the list should be those that will attract younger, well-to-do families and secure a future for Dorchester."
“The new sign (town marquee) is a great improvement over the last one. In fact, in my lifetime, I would say that the sign is the biggest improvement in town. How sad is that?”
"Improvements are NICE but where will the money come from? Grants are out because our town folks are too wealthy and we do not qualify."
"If a swimming pool is needed, dig a big hole in someone's front yard."
On Paved Streets…
“If you had a curb on the streets, people would be less likely to drive onto their lawn so they could stagger three less steps into their front door.”
"Do I remember the picketers? NO! However, I do remember today, driving down muddy streets, dodging mud holes. I do remember never being able to open a window in my house because the dust from the gravel streets gets everywhere."
“I hope our leadership has realized that pavement is not a flash in the pan idea, just look and ANY of our neighboring communities.”
"Come on people, we had more growth back in the days, and they didn’t have paved streets. Paving is not going to bring new growth. Fix downtown and talk about streets later."
"Do I dare to ask what we accomplished by not paving? We kept our community stagnate..... No incentive for commercial or residential development. …The cost to our community has been greater by not paving."
On Dorchester Public Schools…
"Consolidate with Friend? And inherit their $500,000 debt? Not in this lifetime."
"Build the new school and watch a rebirth of the town's pride."
"I have strong feelings...we don't need a new school...we need to take care of the one we have."
"Without the Dorchester school system, the community will fall apart. Families will leave and the town will probably become very poor."
"The future of District #44 depends on planning for the future, growing not just surviving."
"Our appearance needs to be as great as the people in Dorchester. Let's work on an environment that will allow us to keep our young people and possibly invite ones that have left back."
"Sticks in the mud make lousy pathways to the future."
"Time for leadership in the Village, not just nay saying!"
"Small town life is like wearing a dirty diaper: You can sit in your own stink and blame others or you can get up and change yourself."
And finally, our favorite comment came from 'Crete Guy' on the first story we ever posted…
“I didn't know there was enough news to report in Dorchester.”
Tuesday, May 8, 2007
Action will be required by both school boards before Ehlers' departure is made official.
Superintendent Ehlers plans to make an official statement following next week's Dorchester School Board meeting on May 14.
More details will follow as they become available.
Monday, May 7, 2007
According to an AP wire story, Turkey Creek was 5 feet over flood stage, forcing the closure of 20 county roads. Emergency Manager B.J. Fictum said flood watches and warnings remained in effect for Monday. The Dorchester, Wilber and Crete area recorded the state's heaviest precipitation amounts. Fictum said as much as 6 inches was reported in just a 24-hour period in Saline County. Some areas south of Dorchester reported as much as 7 inches over the weekend.
Below are photos from some of this weekend's historic rainfall. We welcome readers to submit their photos by e-mailing them to Dorchester.Times@gmail.com
Above, the town's main artery, Washington Street, looked like a Venetian canal. Below, 8th Street and cars parked on it were submerged. But the water did not deter the kids, who brought out inflatable rafts and mattresses. Meanwhile, the outskirts of towns were reminiscent of the Everglades.
In the Countryside...
Above, fields of planted corn became large lakes in a matter of minutes, as more than 1.5 inches fell in less than 30 minutes in several locations. This was the sight along Tabor Hall road. Below, as torrential rains turned draws into raging streams, tornado-like winds did severe damage at the farms of Steve Vyhnalek and George Kasl, Jr., as well as to trees along Johnson Creek and Turkey Creek. Several county roads emerged damaged on Sunday morning. The AP reports that a number of trees at Pleasant Hill Cemetery fell over in the high winds, damaging eight headstones and monuments.
If Squaw Creek looked like the Big Blue River, Turkey Creek took on the form of the Platte. Below, Turkey Creek as it appeared Sunday at the Highway 15 bridge and the Creek's spillover near Pleasant Hill.