Saturday, June 30, 2007
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
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. **
Thursday, June 28, 2007
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
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...
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
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
- Ron Kahle
- Lori Pracheil
- Bill Boller
- Alan Slepicka
- Dean Pracheil
Sunday, June 24, 2007
Thursday, June 21, 2007
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
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 Dorchester.Times@gmail.com.
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
Saturday, June 16, 2007
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
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
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
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
Saturday, June 9, 2007
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.
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
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
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.
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
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 Colson@farmersco-operative.com 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
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.