Saturday, June 30, 2007

Let Us Know The Improvements You've Seen Around Town

Exactly three months ago, this publication asked readers: "What one thing in Dorchester needs immediate improvement?" We received dozens of suggestions -- some of which could be accomplished easily, while other recommendations were better suited for Dorchester's long-term future. All, however, were offered with the goal of enhancing the community's quality of life.

We agree with readers who have commented that paying compliments to improvements around town is just as important as offering suggestions. And we are happy to note some of the improvements that are occurring. As reader "Small Town Gal" notes, Tyser Welding and Repair is repairing its old building; Klein Construction has begun work on the new park shelter; the West Side Saloon has commenced its expansion to the north building; and plans are in place for Fourth of July activities.

As the Times has noted previously, the new electronic marquee is a wonderful addition to our downtown. We like the renovation of the City Park basketball court, made possible by members of the girls' basketball team. Several homeowners are undertaking home improvement projects. Also, we appreciate the new street signs at the corners of several intersections.

So as Independence Day approaches, we ask readers to send us some of the improvements they notice in the community and share them with other readers. By simply noting the small improvements, Dorchester area residents can rest assured that our community is headed in the right direction.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Dorchester Takes 3rd Place In Softball Tourney; Baseball Starts Tonight

The Dorchester girls' 14-and-under team took third place at this week's softball tournament held here from June 25 to 28.

Of the seven teams participating, Meridian took first place honors, while Friend came in second.

"I want to thank everyone who came and helped us out at the tourney," said Dorchester's Corbey Aaberg. "We couldn't have pulled it off with out the volunteers. From chalking the field, concessions and gates, the tournament went very smoothly, and the girls showed great attitude and sportsmanship throughout the whole tournament." Congratulations to the Dorchester girls for their performance and for representing their hometown well.

** UPDATE: 6/29, 5:00 p.m. **

Meanwhile, residents of the Dorchester area are strongly encouraged to get out to the ball park and root for the hometown team as Dorchester hosts the Pee-Wee boys' baseball tournament starting tonight, June 29, and continuing through July 2. The Dorchester boys will kick off the tournament this evening at 6:30 p.m. against the Wilber team.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

DHS Alum Jeanne Boller Recognized by NU

DHS graduate Jeanne Boller has been recognized by the University of Nebraska, according to an NU media release.

Boller, who played basketball for the Lady Huskers, is recognized as the most successful Dorchester athlete to play at the Division I level of college athletics. At 6'3", Boller appeared in 61 games for the Huskers, with 51 starts during her two-year career. As the Huskers' center, she lettered in both her freshman and sophomore seasons, and finished her career at Nebraska with 344 points, 458 rebounds and 17 assists.

As a freshman in 1976-77, Boller averaged 4.4 points and a team-leading 7.2 rebounds per game. She shot 40 percent from the field, while connecting making 67 percent of her free throws to help Nebraska to a 21-16 final record. As a sophomore, Boller increased her scoring average to 7.1 points a game while adding a strong 8 rebounds per game.

Meanwhile, the Sioux City (Iowa) Journal reports that 2007 DHS graduate Kayla Stehlik is among a dozen volleyball additions who will play this fall at Morningside College. As a 5-10 outside hitter for the Longhorns, Kayla earned honorable mention Class D1 all-state honors.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

School Discussion Remains Lively

One look at the 40-plus comments left at our June 16 post and it's easy to see that readers remain energized when it comes to the proposed reconstruction of Dorchester School's 80-year-old main building.

On June 25, reader "Mike" asked if there were there any estimates of tax consequences should the bond authority be approved? We replied with the following update:

According to outgoing Superintendent Ehlers, the board at this time is looking at the $3.9 million replacement project (Option #2) instead of the renovation options. At the July meeting, the board will select a 15-, 20- or 25-year bond schedule. Ehlers said that until that time, only rough estimates are available for the cost of the contemplated school improvements. A $4 million bond issue for Dorchester Public Schools would add the following to property tax bills:

  • 15 year = 28 cents per $100 ($280 per $100,000 of evaluation);

  • 20 year = 23.5 cents per $100 ($235 per $100,000 of evaluation); or

  • 25 year = 20.5 cents per $100 ($205 per $100,000 of evaluation).

Ehlers also told us that currently, there are no penalties levied on schools that do not meet state code unless an agency-- such as the State Fire Marshal -- sees a risk in the building. "It could happen in 2007 or 2057," Ehlers wrote. "It would only take one parent to bring up the ADA issue and the school could be required to meet the needs of certain students. Complying with state codes is only one of the building issues."

A flurry of comments, many substantive, followed. One anonymous reader -- who said "my house payment is sitting in front of me" -- wrote that "another $350 a year (on top of current property costs) for the next 15-25 years" would make things difficult financially. "And what about grandma down the street?" the reader asked.

Reader "C.S.R." took exception with the anonymous reader's figures, responding: "My home is valued right around $100,000. That means if the board goes with the 25-year bond, we'll be paying an extra $17 a month on our property taxes. ... That's a bargain. It's a public education, not a free education."

Another anonymous reader stated that "most elderly and veteran homeowners are eligible for and receive a homestead exemption. This means that if their property is appropriately valued and certain age and/or service time requirements are met, their property is exempt from property tax. "

Reader "Younger Than Dirt" responded to a critic of the proposed construction project by saying that if "you want to change the quality of the school from the inside, you have the change the outside -- more specifically, the building and conditions. How will you get great teachers and administrators to work in a school that will not put some long term dedication into the school?"

"Realistic Grad" reminded readers that while homeowners in town might be able to afford the costs associated with the school construction, a small- or average-sized farmer could easily have at least a $1 million worth of farm land, "so do the math on that one." (That would be about $2,050 in extra taxes on $1 million of farm ground under the 25-year bond option.) Another farm land owner, "Rockin Chair Papa", said: "I know my bank account is going to be a lot smaller when I pay those taxes on my farms' -- to which reader "Bob" responded by saying, "Don't forget (farmers) pay at only 75% of valuation on farm ground."

The discussion continues...

** UPDATE: 06/27, 12:30 p.m. **

We have received a draft of the public notice for the upcoming school bond election, which will be held Sept. 11. According to the notice, District 44 voters will be asked if the school should issue bonds not to exceed $3.995 million to pay for the "demolition of the 1927 school building, site preparation and improvements, constructing additions to and renovation of the 1963 school building and providing for necessary furniture and apparatus for said school building and additions"?

According to the public notice, bonds would "be issued from time to time" as determined by the school board, and "bear interest at a rate or rates to be determined by the Board of Education and to become due at such time or times as may be fixed by the Board of Education."

The ballot will read: “Shall the District cause to be levied and collected annually a special levy of taxes against all the taxable property in said District sufficient in rate and amount to pay the interest and principal of said bonds as the same become due?”

( ) FOR said bonds and tax

( ) AGAINST said bonds and tax

Polls will be open on Sept. 11 at 8 a.m. and remain open until 8 p.m.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Reporters Wanted

In an effort to become a more comprehensive community publication, the Dorchester Times is working to report more breaking news and recent developments. To accomplish that feat, however, we need more ears and eyes throughout the Dorchester area community.

If you would like to be a Times' correspondent, we urge you to submit stories whenever you see or hear of breaking news. Also, we encourage correspondents to send special features on deserving individuals or organizations in the Dorchester area. Stories should be relatively brief in length, but with sufficient details. Accompanying photos are encouraged. Stand-alone photos with cutlines will also be considered. The only requirements are that you have a computer and are a resident of the Dorchester area. Simply e-mail your stories to

Those who submit stories should indicate whether or not they wish to be credited for reporting their story. Anonymous stories are perfectly acceptable. All submitted articles will be edited and fact checked by the Times, which cannot guarantee that all submitted stories and photos will be published.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Who's Up For Re-Election?

Every so often, the Dorchester Times receives a question from readers asking which of Dorchester's elected officials will be up for re-election in 2008. Also, some readers have left comments encouraging residents with complaints to run for office themselves.

So for those interested, the following local officials have terms ending next year. It is not yet known if these public servants will seek re-election in 2008. (The publishing of this information is neither an endorsement of current officials, nor is it an endorsement of any challenger.)

Dorchester School Board:
  • Ron Kahle
  • Lori Pracheil
  • Bill Boller
Dorchester Village Board:
  • Alan Slepicka
  • Dean Pracheil
Those seeking election or re-election for either the school or city board must file by July 15, 2008. Candidate names will appear on only the general election ballots in November. Candidates for local races will not appear on the primary election ballots in May.

Candidates must submit the proper paperwork to the Saline County Clerk and Elections Commissioner. Filing papers for both the school board and city board will be available at City Hall in Dorchester, as well the Saline County Courthouse. Additional information can be obtained by calling (402) 821-2374 or e-mailing

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Fireworks On Sale This Week

On Thursday, July 28, the sounds and sights of fireworks will envelop our town of Dorchester as Independence Day nears.

The Dorchester Area Community Association will again be selling fireworks on Main Street to raise money to help pay for the community fireworks display. Volunteers are needed to help with the fireworks stand. Those who would like to help may contact Carol Olson with DACA (

The DACA fireworks stand will be open from Thursday and through the holiday, with the following hours: June 28 & 29 (5-9 p.m.); June 30 & July 1 (1-9 p.m.); July 2&3 (5-9 p.m.); and July 4 (10 a.m.-4 p.m.).

For those who would like to contribute directly for the town fireworks display, donations should be mailed to: DACA, 1146 County Road F, Dorchester, NE 68343.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Who Is Saline County's King of Crop Subsidies?

Lately, our reader comments have given us plenty on which to report. Following our June 16 post, comments left by "Friend Fanatic" and "Neighbors to the West" managed to spark our collective ire. That's something only "Cynical Richard" and a certain anonymous reader have managed to do previously.

Regarding the idea of Dorchester School consolidating with Friend, "Neighbors to the West" wrote: "Many of the board members from Dorchester were interested in consolidation a few years ago. ... Stay in your own little world and you will be swallowed up by Crete in no time."

News flash: Dorchester isn't Elkhorn -- and Crete certainly isn't Omaha. As we've noted elsewhere, the Times and its editors oppose consolidation -- with Friend or any other school. While we realize there are things Friend has done better than Dorchester, such as investment in community infrastructure, Dorchester should learn from our "neighbors to the west" -- not necessarily join them.

A more intriguing comment came from "Friend Fanatic", who made reference to agricultural subsidies when another reader mentioned how many acres he paid taxes on. "Fanatic" wrote: "700 acres? That's a lot of land. Must be nice to have someone give you that much land -- a great inheritance. I bet it takes a big mailbox to get all those government checks each month. You bad mouth Friend, but your new superintendent lives here, so it must be better than good old Dorchester."

That comment desperately needs a reality check.

The fact is, farmers in the Friend zip code have received millions more in government payments than those surrounding Dorchester or any other area community. According to USDA data, from 1995-2005, Friend-area farmers received nearly $36 million in government subsidies -- more than $12 million (or 34%) more than Dorchester farmers. Friend farmers also received $11.6 million more than Crete farmers; $12.2 million more than Wilber farmers; and $11.7 million more than Milford farmers. Readers can find this information for themselves by entering the Friend zip code (68359) at this Web site.

For the record, we do not have a problem with reasonable commodity price supports. Although we like the free market, we understand that price supports are sometimes necessary in the unpredictable world of farming. But to our buddy in Friend, you should be more careful when launching stones from your big glass house.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Help Needed Next Week At Softball Tourney

Your help is needed for the upcoming 14 and under girls' softball tournament to be held in Dorchester on June 25 to 28.

According to Corbey Aaberg, volunteers are needed to ensure that the tourney runs smoothly. There will be a sign-up sheet inside the snack shack at the ball field for those who want to help.

This is a wonderful opportunity to catch some great softball and see Dorchester's up-and-coming athletes. It is also a extraordinary chance to help portray Dorchester in a positive light to the out-of-town visitors.

The tournament begins June 25 at 5 p.m. See you at the ol' ball park!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Sign Up Here To Volunteer For Dorchester

In recent days, several comments have been left on this Web site regarding hometown improvements and the maintenance of Dorchester's public property. Some of the commentary has been somewhat contentious, but we have enjoyed the feedback and believe the discussion is mostly healthy.

In response to our June 5 post, there has been a wide spectrum of suggestions for community improvement projects, including the creation a community fitness center; building a nursing home or assisted living center; establishing a "Yard of the Week" award; and even starting a "Main Street Median Improvement Club."

We are pleased that some commentators offered possible solutions to the challenges facing Dorchester. For instance, reader Pat Dvorak noted that vandalism at the City Park has been a problem. She reported that in a single day, the park bathrooms were vandalized three times.

So we especially like the idea of involving youth in future improvement projects initiated by the town or its organizations. As one reader stated, "If you get the kids helping, they'll take pride in the town (and) be less tempted to vandalize." We agree. As an example, the DHS girls' basketball team recently painted the basketball court in the city park. The result? Many more young people have been playing ball there in recent weeks.

Our favorite suggestion came from reader Hometown Gal, who recommended the Times have a volunteer sign-up. She wrote: "We need the manpower to make Dorchester beautiful again. Remember 15 or so years ago when the same group of ladies would care for our medians? We could also have a great park. ... We need leadership."

The call has been sounded. If you or your children have a few extra minutes to give back to our town -- regardless of whether you live in town or in the country -- please sign up to volunteer. Leave your name, number and e-mail address by clicking on the comment section below. Or if you wish to sign up privately, send us your information at

In a few days, we will pass on this information to the leaders of the Dorchester Area Community Association (DACA), who can use the contact information when new community projects are in the works.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Business Spotlight: Potter Sod Farm

Today we look at one of Dorchester's newest business ventures.

Potter Sod Farm -- located at 1340 Co. Road F -- is a partnership of two generations of Potters and Jan Wagner (Jack Potter's father-in-law). It is a genuine working family farm that offers sod sales, delivery and installation. The farm will be cutting sod later this summer and taking orders soon.

We at the Times are particularly impressed that Potter Farm's Tall Fescue has been proven to require about 33 percent less water than Kentucky Blue Grass. The Fescue has a good tolerance to heat, drought and shade, and has an excellent dark green color and fine texture. The variety has shown to be resistant to gray leaf spot, brown patch, as well as damaging insects.

Five generations have resided at the Potter farm, which was homesteaded by the Fredrick Potter family in1886. Visit the farm's new Web site by clicking here. For those interested in receiving a quote on a new underground irrigation or landscaping project, call 402-580-3940. Or e-mail Jack Potter at

Take a leisurely drive out to Potter Sod Farm to see a fine example of diversified agriculture at work in the Dorchester area.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

New School Issue To Be Decided In Three Months

In less than 90 days, voters of the Dorchester School District will go to the ballot box to decide whether to renovate or replace the 80-year-old main school building.

According to the Dorchester School Board minutes from the June 11 meeting, members voted 6-0 to approve a resolution calling for a Special Bond election on Tuesday, September 11, 2007. The motion by was made by Ron Kahle and seconded by Matt Hansen.

Earlier this month, a Dorchester Times survey of 90 readers found more than 60 percent of readers wanted to see the 1927 school building replaced, an option that would cost an estimated $3.9 million. Another 22 percent wanted to see the main building renovated, which would cost an estimated $1.8 to $2.9 million. About 12 percent of readers wanted to consider consolidation and two percent wanted to do nothing at this time.

Other developments from the meeting include a 6-0 vote to approve a Speech Para contract for Shavon Williams for the 2007-2008 school year. Discussions were held on the still-open positions of girls assistant basketball coach and bus drivers. As reported earlier, the board approved Don Pieper as Interim Superintendent for the 2007-2008 school year with a 5-1 vote. Kahle, Pracheil, Bors, Hansen and Havlat voted "yes" and Boller voted "no".

During the meeting, the board was informed that a "plumbing issue" has been discovered during the the remodeling of the school's restrooms. More details will be discussed when more information is obtained. The next school board meeting will be July 16 at 8 p.m.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Tribute To One Of Dorchester's Fallen: Charles Havlat

Like thousands of other American men in the 1940s, Charles Havlat of Dorchester was sent overseas during World War II. Also like many others, Private First Class Havlat never made it back home, having made the ultimate sacrifice for his country.

But what makes PFC Havlat's story especially unique is that he is officially the last American soldier killed in action in the European Theatre during World War II. PFC Havlat took a bullet in the head while on patrol in southern Bohemia, shot by Nazi soldiers who were unaware that a ceasefire had been declared.

At 34 years old, PFC Havlat was the oldest in his family to serve in WWII, along with brothers Adolph and Rudy Havlat.

According to a 2005 story by Radio Praha (Czech Radio), PFC Havlat was on reconnaissance in a jeep on May 7, 1945, in Czechoslovakia, when his unit was blindsided by a "hail of enemy machine gun and small arms fire from concealed positions in the woods." In an interview, his brother Adolph recalled that "Charley fired once at the enemy and then ducked" behind the hood of the his damaged jeep. "But he peeked back up, I guess, at the same position and they apparently had a bead right on him, so ... and he died instantly," Adolph said. "That's what I've been told, anyway."

PFC Havlat's fellow soldiers returned fire until the Germans' radio operator received word nine minutes latter that a cease-fire order and armistice were in effect. Taken captive, the German officer who led the ambush said he did not know that a cease-fire had been declared and apologized for the incident.

The Havlat brothers were unaware of just how unlucky Charles had been until half a century later, according to the Radio Praha article. "We actually didn't hear about this until about 1995 -- that he was the last killed -- until it was published in the VFW magazine," Adolph said.

PFC Havlat is buried at the Saint Avold World War II Veteran's Cemetery near Metz, France. A military club in the Czech city of Plzen paid for a memorial plaque to be placed at the spot where he was killed. A few years ago, Adolph waged an unsuccessful campaign to get part of Highway 33, which Charles traveled often as a trucker, named "The Charles Havlat Memorial Highway." The Dorchester Times encourages county and state leaders, including state Senator Russ Karpisek, to pursue this worthwhile memorial and tribute to PFC Havlat.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Doug Nelsen Honored By Madonna Hospital

Dorchester graduate and area resident Doug Nelsen has been recognized by Lincoln's Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital for demonstrating "outstanding achievement" to overcome physical disabilities following his 2001 stroke.

Suffering the stroke at a young age, Nelson was left with no movement in his left arm and had severe left facial droop, along with limited control of his left leg. To travel, Nelsen required the assistance of two other people. To walk, he was forced to use a medical device. He needed help to sit on the edge of the bed, dress and eat.

According to Madonna, Nelson "worked tremendously hard to regain skills needed to care for himself and return to his horse training business. His great personality (always positive, never discouraged), his willingness to try new things -- even if it meant working a lot harder -- was an inspiration to others. His hard work resulted in his return to work full time. He is not only running his business, but recently competed in a cutting horse competition and placed among the top finishers."

Nelson's picture and story has been placed on the Wall of Honor at Madonna where they serve to inspire patients and families who may be experiencing similar challenges. For more on Nelsen's rehabilitation and the Madonna program,
click here.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Pieper Selected as Interim Superintendent

The Times has learned that the Dorchester School Board has hired Don Pieper as superintendent for the 2007-08 school year. The move is seen as short-term. Sources tell us that the search for a permanent superintendent will continue. Brian Redinger will serve as K-12 principal for the upcoming school year.

Pieper served as superintendent of Dorchester Public Schools from 1995 until 2005.

Also decided by the Dorchester School Board at last night's meeting was the selection of Doris Broz as the new director of the Dorchester Community Preschool. Broz must yet be certified by Nebraska Health and Human Services and the preschool must be inspected by the State Fire Marshall prior to the start of sessions. Questions concerning the preschool should be directed to Broz at (402) 821-2547.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Help Us Spotlight Your Business

Dorchester entrepreneurs: Do you want your business featured in the Dorchester Times? If so, we want to hear from you.

We want to spotlight more of our community businesses. But to do so, we need to hear from Dorchester business owners. Let us know what is new at your business, as well as any special offers and your business hours. Times' readers will appreciate the update, even if they are already loyal customers.

Send us information you want published at

Saturday, June 9, 2007

July 4th Celebration Schedule Announced

Anyone in Saline and adjoining counties will tell you that Dorchester has one of the finest small-community July 4th celebrations in the region.

Throughout the Fourth of July, residents and out-of-town visitors will find plenty of things to do in Dorchester, without having to fight the crowds of Seward or Lincoln. Of course, the day's highlight comes after dark with the renowned fireworks show, which has been pleasing crowds for more than a dozen years.

** Updated 6/18, 11:30 a.m. **

Here is the event schedule for the 2007 Dorchester Fourth of July Celebration:

7:30 a.m. .................................... Two-Mile Fun Walk (starts on Main Street)
8 a.m. ......................................... Breakfast (West Side Saloon)

10 a.m. ....................................... Show & Shine (Main Street). Tractors and vehicles welcome. Contact Shelley Bruha, John Palky or Loren Vyhnalek.

11 a.m. - 7 p.m. ......................... Sons of the American Legion BBQ (Legion Hall)
1 p.m.-4 p.m. .............................. Book Swap (Community Building)
2 p.m.-4 p.m. .............................. Bingo (Community Building)
2 p.m.-4 p.m. .............................. Bounce House for the Kids (City Park)
3 p.m. ......................................... Kiddy Tractor Pull (City Park)
3 p.m.-7 p.m. ............................. Girl Scouts Craft Booth (City Park)
4 p.m. ......................................... Taekwondo Demo (City Park)

5 p.m.-7 p.m. ............................. Mr. Jones Train Rides (Main Street)
5 p.m.-7 p.m. ............................. Music by Shawn Cole, One Man Band (City Park)
5:30 p.m.-7 p.m. ........................ Jr. Auxiliary Ice Cream Social (City Park)

7:30 p.m. ................................... Parade (Main Street)
9:30 p.m. ................................... Taekwondo (Football Field)
At Dark ..................................... Fireworks (Football Field) ** Rain-Out Date: 7/7 **

The Dorchester Area Community Association (DACA) takes on the difficult task of organizing events and raising funds for our annual celebration. If you would like to assist financially to ensure that this proud tradition continues, please send donations to: DACA, 1146 County Road F, Dorchester, NE 68343.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Superintendent Search Continues

According to well-placed sources, the Dorchester School Board has still not selected a replacement for Superintendent Alan Ehlers.

While the search continues, we are informed that it has been narrowed to a select handful of candidates, possibly as few as three individuals -- all with significant administrative experience.

During their May meeting, school board members accepted Ehlers' resignation, which becomes effective June 30. Ehlers will head Tri-County Public School.

The next regularly scheduled board meeting is this Monday, June 11, at 8 p.m. The Dorchester Times will post any breaking news on this issue as soon as it becomes available.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

WANTED: Community Improvement Project Ideas

Several towns in our area are undertaking noteworthy community improvement projects. Down the road in Friend, for example, members of the Friend Historical Society have raised nearly $40,000 to restore the Warren Opera House to its original grandeur.

In Pawnee City, the chamber of commerce has purchased more than 400 redbud and red maple trees over the past few years and given them to residents. Designated as the “Redbud Capital of Nebraska” by the Legislature, Pawnee City's goal is to plant a redbud tree on every home lot in hopes the project will expand and promote business as people visit to see the flowering trees each spring.

We want to hear from Times readers regarding their ideas for community enhancement projects. What community improvement project do you suggest? Regardless of how grand or modest your proposal may be, we want to hear your ideas and recommendations. The more, the merrier.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Dorchester Historical Calendars Still Available

Last year, the Dorchester Area Community Association published 18-month calendars profiling Dorchester's history in an effort to raise money for the community's annual July Fourth celebration. A few calendars remain for sale at the Saline State Bank, according to DACA.

The calendars are valid through December 2007 and make a wonderful keepsake for anyone with Dorchester ties. The calendar photos highlight our community's rich history and a simpler bygone era. The calendar's June photos shows the old Dorchester opera house and the cast of a high school play at the turn of the 20th century.

The price of the calendar has been reduced from $10 to $7.50. To have one mailed, add an additional $2 for postage. (E-mail for details.)

Also, as a reminder, the Foundation continues to collect aluminum cans in the red trailer next to the City Park restrooms. Funds from the recycled cans will be applied to the park renovation project.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Want Cleaner Neighbors? Try Peer Pressure

Over the past two months, our readers have left several comments about the conditions of some homes and yards in town. We agree that people should take pride in their homes. They should mow their grass. They should paint their house and, if money allows, landscape their property with trees and flowers. Regrettably, that does not always happen. As a result, we can cite a handful of eyesores in Dorchester.

Recently, a West Virginia newspaper editorial said this about messy properties in its area: "Most cities and counties have ordinances in place to deal with residences that are so unkempt they are a nuisance or health threat. Yet at what point can a municipality make an individual or family keep their home neat and tidy? ...Must code enforcement or police officers stand over individuals with the figurative whip in one hand and statute book in the other as they force them to mow their lawns and trim overgrown weeds. Obviously, it’s not realistic."

Many readers of the Times have written that the Dorchester Village Board must be more aggressive in implementation and enforcement of ordinances to crack down on dilapidated, unsightly homes. But we want to echo the sentiments of the West Virginia newspaper, which wrote: "Although we support codes requiring the maintenance of property — and we wish they were more strongly enforced — it is very difficult, if not impossible, for a governing body to force regular home maintenance habits on the general public.

"It is for this reason we are encouraged by the change in attitude within municipal governments and among many local residents when it comes to beautification of the region. We see the sparkle emanating from residential areas after cities and towns hold annual clean-up events and sponsor beautification efforts. ...And this, we believe, is the real key to code enforcement. It’s easier to neglect mowing the lawn if every home on your street is neglected and in disrepair than when your house is the only one on the block with an overgrown yard. While we do not want to downplay the importance of code enforcement, we believe positive results on the beautification front can also be achieved through peer pressure from others in the community."

We at the Times think most of our readers would agree that a strategy of "peer pressure" could achieve the same results in Dorchester. Instead of looking to local government to clean up our neighbor's yard, perhaps greater strides can be made in sprucing up the town by simply encouraging others to join in the effort.