Tuesday, July 31, 2007

In Search of Funding for Community Improvement Projects

Since the very first days this publication, our readers have suggested many ideas for community improvement projects. Regardless of the need or feasibility of these proposals, however, critics often counter by mentioning the challenge of funding these projects.

Whether it is paving the streets or addressing the water infrastructure, the common question asked is: where is the money going to come from? We thought we would work to uncover a few sources.

According to NEBRASKA DEVELOPMENT NEWS, a monthly newsletter published by the Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED), communities can find funding for community development activities through the Community Development Assistance Act (CDAA). The CDAA provides a 40 percent state tax credit to individuals, businesses, financial institutions and other entities that make eligible contributions of cash, services, or materials to approved community betterment projects.

A 40 percent tax credit is nothing to sneeze at. Applicants must be a village or other local government, or a non-profit 501 (c)(3) organization. The area to be served by the project must be designated by DED as an area of economic distress.

Another source of funding is the Nebraska Lied Main Street program, which provides smaller Nebraska communities with resources to help revitalize their main street districts through economic development and historic preservation. New communities are selected on a competitive application process. Nearby towns that have benefited from the program include Geneva.

While the CDAA and Main Street programs are neither silver bullet solutions nor are they easy to obtain, we think Dorchester leaders should consider both as potential pieces of the puzzle when it comes to funding sources.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Group Supporting New School Project Meets Tonight

The Times has learned that a group of District No. 44 patrons supporting the proposed new school construction project will meet tonight, July 30, in the school library at 7:30 p.m. The meeting is open to all district patrons interested in helping with the promotion of the proposed project and educating fellow voters.

According to information provided to the Times, the group met for the first time last Thursday night to discuss ways disseminating information to other district voters. Alan Eveland of Ameritas Investment Corp., which was selected by the school board to be the bonding agent, gave a presentation to the group. Afterwards, the formation of committees within the organization was initiated.

Ameritas will help direct the effort in bringing information to the voters, according to information provided to the Times. Also present for questioning at the Thursday meeting were representatives from Ayars and Ayars Construction and Architecture.

Those interested in joining the group or assisting with its educational efforts are asked to call co-chairs Kelly Feeken (946-4501) or Donna Havlat (826-5449).

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Still-Standing Stone Houses Were Part Of Area's Settlement

Take a drive in the countryside south of Dorchester and it is likely you will spot an old stone house or two, still standing as proudly today as they did a century ago. These structures played a role in the permanent settlement of the Dorchester and Pleasant Hill area.

When the first European settlers came to Saline County in the 1850s and 1860s, lumber had to be brought from Nebraska City -- a trip that could take several weeks. So to build a home, early residents had two alternatives: dugouts or stone houses.

Fortunately for our pioneer ancestors, a vein of limestone ran near Pleasant Hill and Turkey Creek. Quarries and lime kilns could be found throughout the Pleasant Hill precinct, according to the Dorchester Centennial history publication. Some of these quarries, including the one at the present-day Joe Kubicek farm, operated until the mid-twentieth century, when they ceased to be financially viable.

The Sukraw house, Brown house, Pisar house and barn, Freude house and See house were prime examples of this early architecture, which was as practical as it was sturdy.

A map of the stone home locations can be found on page 198 of the Dorchester Centennial history book. We encourage Times readers to explore the living history and heritage of their home area. (Editors Note: Please respect the rights of private property owners and do not trespass. Get permission if you wish to see one of these structures up close.)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Dorchester 12 & Under Baseball Team Takes Third

We are pleased to learn that the Dorchester American League baseball team (ages 12 and under) recently took third place in the season-concluding tournament held in Geneva.

Dorchester claimed one of the league's most explosive lineups. Under the guidance of coaches Brian Prybl and Joe Kaspar, the team scored more than 40 runs in three games.

Our congratulations go to Dorchester's American Leaguers and their coaches on their strong finish this season.

Fire Dept. Collecting Old Cell Phones, Offering EMT Classes

The Times has learned that the Dorchester Volunteer Fire Department is collecting older cell phones that are currently not receiving service. The cell phone collection is serving as a "mini fundraiser" for the department.

If you have one or more older cell phones that aren't being used, please donate them to the DVFD. Drop boxes are located at the Saline State Bank, the village office, and R-Lounge. Other drop boxes can be found at the Crete Medical Clinic and Grace United Methodist Church in Crete. Cords and chargers are not wanted.

Also, those interested in taking emergency medical technician (EMT) classes should sign up now at the village office. Applicants must be at least 18 years old, but are not required to be associated with a fire department.

The course will consist of two evenings and some Saturdays, over a three to four month period. No specific dates have been set; however, the EMT course will likely begin in late August or early September. The class requires at least nine to be enrolled.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Scenes From Vacation Bible School 2007

Last week, the Dorchester Methodist Church held its annual Vacation Bible School (VBS), a longstanding tradition and a key part of the Methodist Church's 125-year history in Dorchester. We appreciate that the church and its congregation have always afforded all Dorchester area children, regardless of their family's church membership, the chance to participate in this week of worship and fun.

We also want to take a moment to reflect that the church must continue to play an integral role in the future of our town.

According to “The Centennial History of Dorchester,” religion played a vital role in the lives of the people who settled the Dorchester area -- which at one time also had churches of the Baptist, United Brethren, Christian, and Congregational denominations. In the earliest days of Dorchester, religion “not only offered some comfort and hope against the hardships of pioneer life, but it also served the purpose of uniting the people."

We believe this is still true in 2007. That is why we especially appreciate the efforts of Lori Vyhnalek, who sent us these pictures of last week's VBS. We hope Dorchester Times readers enjoy them as much as we did. (Editors' note: Readers may click on each picture to get a better view.)

Friday, July 20, 2007

Crime Stoppers Seeking Thief Who Stole Dorchester ATV

The Saline County Sheriff's Office is conducting an investigation into a stolen Honda ATV four-wheeler stolen in Dorchester during the early morning hours of July 8.

Unknown suspects took the ATV from the 700 block of Washington Street. Anyone with information about this or has information about any other criminal activity is urged to call Saline County Crime Stoppers. The toll-free number is 1-800-345-3361. Any information that leads to an arrest and conviction may be eligible for a cash reward and you can remain anonymous.

Let's send a clear message that Dorchester will not tolerate crime or criminals in our community.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Dorchester Times Named One Of Nebraska's Best Web Sites

We here at the Times don't go out of our way to sing our own praises. However, we wanted to share the news with our loyal readers that the Dorchester Times has been named as one of state's best Web sites.

The folks at a site called Be Heard Nebraska -- a site dedicated to all things Nebraska -- informed us last night that the Dorchester Times has been chosen as "one of the best sites" originating from the Good Life State.

The staff at Be Heard Nebraska wrote: "(W)e have found some sites that feature Nebraska or things associated with Nebraska. We have our list of some of the best sites out there that we have found. We are proud that Nebraskans have done such a good job of infiltrating the Internet and making a home there."

The Times is one of only 10 sites listed and the only site under the specialty category. According to the Be Heard Nebraska writers, the Times is a "community run blog on news in and around the Dorchester area" and "a great community builder."

We thank the staff at Be Heard Nebraska for recognizing the Times, as well as the individual(s) who nominated our little online venture.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Distinguishing Between the Ins and Outs

Every town has them: leaders; movers and shakers; people who make things happen.

And every community has those on the other end of the spectrum -- folks who would rather bask in negativity; the nay-sayers; the "sticks in the mud," as one Times reader called them.

We realize Dorchester has both types in town. However, we are an optimistic lot and believe anyone can change their outlook, even if it takes a good nudge from friends and family members.

With this in mind, we wish to share a 2006 article published in the North Platte Telegraph. Written by former Telegraph reporter Mary Ann Koch, the piece concludes that residents in any community belong to one of two groups -- the "Ins" and the "Outs".

Read this short piece and ask yourself: Which group do I belong to?

'Separating the Ins from the Outs'

There is an easy way to tell the “Ins” from the “Outs” in a community -- any community.

The Ins are the people who spend long, hard hours working for community improvement. The Outs are the people who spend their time and energy being critical.

The Ins invest hours in meetings, organizing programs and weighing alternatives. They are usually generous in their opinions of others, knowing that anything to be done must be done with the help of others. The Outs invest in gossip, repeating rumors without regard for truth, and spreading resentment and frustration.

The Ins see a need in the community and try to do something constructive to meet that need. The Outs complain about everything the community lacks and find fault with everyone who tries to do anything about it.

The Ins get their names in the news because they are news makers. The Outs don’t get involved.

The Ins look for the best in people and believe that people do the very best they can in a given situation. The Outs are sure that everyone in the public eye is crooked and has a selfish motive for everything.

The Ins believe a person who has accumulated material wealth has worked hard and deserves that wealth. The Outs believe a wealthy person got that way in some dishonest manner or simply inherited it all.

The Ins are doers. The Outs are talkers.

The Ins are positive. The Outs are negative.

Which one are you?

Monday, July 16, 2007

DACA Reviews July Fourth Celebration

On Tuesday, July 10, the Dorchester Area Community Association (DACA) held its regular monthly meeting.

DACA leaders recapped the July 4 celebration. DACA president Carol Olson reported that 22 walkers participated in the Independence Day two-mile fun walk. Shelley Bruha noted that 25 vehicles (mostly tractors) were on display at the Show and Shine. Bruha said that while he was pleased with the attendance, but he would like to see it expanded to include more cars & trucks.

Steve Ottmann reported that the Sons of the Legion served approximately 280 people at the BBQ held at the Legion. Dorothy Beekley said there were more Bingo players than any prior year, and that nearly $250 was raised at the event. Marvin Kohout reported that approximately 60 children participated in the Kid’s Tractor Pull -- and Pat O’Brien commented that there were more children present in Dorchester than at some County Fairs.

Cory Woerner said he and Steve Parks were very busy loading and unloading kids from the train ride, provided by Harold Jones of Crete. The parade featured over 40 entries, including several floats, as well as antique cars and tractors. The music in the park was by Shawn Cole, while the Jr. Auxiliary provided ice cream and cupcake. The Crete ATA Martial Arts Academy furnished Taekwondo entertainment prior to the fireworks.

The cost of the Fourth of July events are as follows:

  • Fireworks -- $2,500
  • Bounce House -- $375 (Sponsored by Tyser Repair, West Side Saloon, Saline State Bank-Dorchester, R Lounge, Dorchester Grocery, and Donna’s Hair Creation.
  • Train -- $175
  • Music -- $200
  • Tractor Pull -- $395 (Sponsored by Farmers Cooperative.)

Some of the fundraising profits include:

  • Fireworks Sales -- $1,028
  • Mailed Donations/Business Buckets & Free-Will Offering -- $1906
  • Bingo -- $250

After chairing or co-chairing the 4th of July event for the past years, Carol Olson announced she is resigning that position. DACA members then agreed that it would be best to find a chairperson to oversee the entire July 4 celebration, as well as a chairperson for advertising and a chairman for individual events. Area residents who are interested in any of these positions are asked to contact any DACA member or attend the next meeting.

DACA meets the second Tuesday of every month at the Community Center at 7 p.m. For more information or to join, e-mail Dale Hayek at dhayek@farmersco-operative.com

Friday, July 13, 2007

Youth Football Camp To Be Held Next Week

Football season is approaching quickly! For Dorchester's future gridiron stars, it is never too early to start brushing up their skills.

The Longhorns Youth Football Camp will be held July 17, 18, 19 (Tuesday-Thursday) from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. each evening. Students going into 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th grades are invited to participate.

The camp will introduce and reinforce basic football fundamentals, educating students about the game while instilling within them more confidence -- which will allow them to enjoy their football experience even more. The camp drills will include:
  • Skill Development;
  • Athletic Fundamentals;
  • Team Time;
  • 7 on 7 Passing Games;
  • Drill Work;
  • Position Education; and
  • Longhorns T-Shirt.
Cost for the camp is $15. Those with questions should call Coach Zoubek (946-2198) or Coach Voelker (416-8058).

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Sheriff's Office Closes In On Two Dorchester Burglaries

The Times has learned that investigators with the Saline County Sheriff's Office are working in conjunction with the Friend Police Department to solve three local burglaries.

According to Saline County Sheriff Alan J. Moore, investigators recently discovered items that were believed to have been stolen during a burglary at the Dorchester Public School that occurred on December 7, 2003. This evidence also helped the sheriff's office solve the burglary at Dorchester's former Pit Stop Bar and Grill, which occurred on January 16, 2004 -- the same evening as another burglary at the Dorchester School and the school in Friend.

The suspect in the case is Rick Schwisow, 34, of Friend. Schwisow is currently being held at the Nebraska State Penitentiary on other charges, according to a release from the Saline County Sheriff's Office. Meanwhile, the investigation is continuing.

The York News-Times reports that Schwisow was also charged in late 2004 with burglarizing the Henderson Golf Course and Northern Pump and Irrigation.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Update On City Park Shelter Project

Take a walk or drive past the Dorchester City Park and you'll notice that construction has begun on the new park shelter. This is one of the first projects initiated by the Dorchester Area Community Foundation (DACF) -- not to be confused with the Dorchester Area Community Association (DACA), despite that many of the same people are involved.

About three years ago, a small group of Dorchester residents established DACF. The members made a wish list, which was topped by hopes for a new park shelter. DACF members began an energetic fundraising project to replace the old shelter, as grant proposals were written, fund raisers were held, and donation letters were sent. Since then, many residents, former residents and DHS alumni have contributed to this project.

According to DACF secretary Peg Bergmeyer, the Foundation also received a $16,200 matching grant from the Nebraska Game and Parks by proving there was a local recreation need for the new shelter. The initial bid for the 30’x 40’ shelter was $39,000. The shelter will feature a concrete floor and gable roof, with lighting and electrical sockets, plus storage for serving tables. The plan also provides for eight picnic tables and two permanent grills.

Bergmeyer said that while there are adequate funds for the shelter construction to begin, donations are still needed for extras such as landscaping and additional sidewalks to the existing restrooms.

For those wishing to help with this important project, engraved bricks are still available through July 31 to anyone who donates between $100 and $250 to the shelter project. More than 130 bricks have been ordered to date. Also, picnic tables can be sponsored by donating $750 for a table or $375 for a half table. Send donations and brick engraving details to DACF, P.O. Box 115, Dorchester, NE 68343.

All donations to the Foundation are tax deductible and can be specified for a specific fund or to the general fund. To learn about donation options and benefits, contact Peg Bergmeyer at
pegbergmeyer@yahoo.com or 946-2471.

The Foundation is already planning its next project of “Welcome to Dorchester” signs. More information will be forthcoming, Bergmeyer said.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Top 10 Reasons Smaller Schools Are Best

There has been plenty of exchange between Times' readers regarding the merits of the proposed new school project. However, one thing on which most readers can agree is that a small school education offers several advantages.

Smaller schools know how to educate their students and typically can do it with better results than their larger counterparts. In a recent report by the Rural School and Community Trust, Lorna Jimerson, Ed.D, offered her top 10 research-based reasons why small works for schools. This list was forwarded to us by a loyal reader, and we thought it was important to share it with other readers of the Times.

Residents of the Dorchester School district are encouraged to review the following from time to time, especially as the Sept. 11 special election nears.

'Top 10 Reasons Small Schools Work Better'

1. There is greater participation in extracurricular activities, which have been linked to academic success.

2. Small schools are safer.

3. Kids feel they belong.

4. Small class size allows more individualized instruction.

5. Good teaching methods are easier to implement.

6. Teachers feel better about their work.

7. Mixed-ability classes avoid condemning some students to low expectations.

8. Multi-age classes promote personalized learning and encourage positive social interactions.

9. Smaller districts mean less bureaucracy.

10. More graduates in one school alleviate many problems of transitions to new schools.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Readers Note Improvements Around Town

In our June 30 post, we noted that several readers had paid compliments to the many improvements around town. We asked readers to send us more of the community improvements they have noticed, so that they could be shared with other readers. Fortunately, there was no shortage of responses.

Readers noted the appearance of the medians on Main Street; the potted trees outside City Hall; and the floral display in front of the post office. Reader "Jr." paid compliments to the landscaping of a home near the school. Another reader praised the appearance of another home for its "red,white and blue banners" -- saying it left out-of-town visitors with "a good first impression. "

Several readers noted the improved looks of the recently renovated Conner Roofing & Gifts building, which was damaged by a fire 25 years ago. Others thanked "whoever mowed the roadside grass north of town along the spur" and the "young ladies who removed the bindweed from the bushes and flowers in the boulevards" prior to the Fourth of July celebration. We also received an e-mail from a reader who likes the flag poles outside Tyser Welding & Repair.

We thank the readers who took time to note such efforts around town. These compliments are the result of a unique brand of hometown pride that exists here in Dorchester.

Speaking of things unique to our town, we wish to note a sight witnessed on southern Fulton Street, where the owners of a large garden have set up a picnic table and sign offering free produce to passersby. That's the type of generosity that is hard to find in the big city -- and another reason we are grateful for the type of folks who reside in Dorchester.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Sights From the July 4 Parade

An estimated 400 Dorchester residents and out-of-town guests saw a top-notch parade on July 4. While the parade was only one of several events comprising the community's Independence Day celebration, it was undoubtedly one of the day's highlights.

Parade observers were treated to antique tractors and classic cars, as well as floats featuring the members of the Dorchester American Legion; the Legion Auxiliary; the Dorchester Methodist Church; baseball and softball teams; the Nebraska Czech queen; state Senator Russ Karpisek; and the Dorchester Area Community Association.

One of the more memorable floats featured future Dorchester students and their parents riding in support of the school bond issue to be voted on in September. Another parade entry carried a star-spangled Christmas Tree, courtesy of Kohout Christmas Trees.

For those who were unable to attend, as well as those who were there, here is a look back on one of Dorchester's best Fourth of July parades yet. (For a close up view, simply click on the photo.)

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Crete News Devotes Front Page Story to School Issue

The July 4 issue of the Crete News features a front page article on the proposed Dorchester School construction project and the special election to be held on September 11.

As usual, reporter B.J. Fictum has written a balanced and informative piece featuring some new information, while also citing details from the Times' May 23 and June 27 stories, as well as the school board's public information meeting held in early May. (Editors' Note: We have been informed that only a handful of visitors attended the July 4 open house at the school.)

The Crete News story includes quotes from Dorchester Board of Education president Brad Havlat, who has served on the board for a dozen years. In the article, Havlat discusses the recent study that found the school's main structure -- built 80 years ago -- has a series of problems requiring action in the near future. Included in this list are ten "Life Safety Code issues" such as fire sprinkler systems; fire barriers between hallways and classrooms; boiler room fire separation; electrical work; and exit stairs and rails.

Other concerns noted by architects and engineers include: the building's inadequate classroom space; leaking ceilings; no vertical access for handicap students; highly inefficient plumbing and electrical systems; indoor air quality concerns; and some foundation and wall problems.

Havlat told the Crete News: "We had a board work session last November to kick around ideas for the school and one thing teachers and administrators had mentioned back then and even before then was lack of adequate space. ... People had seen what other schools like McCool Junction had built recently and that got the discussion going."

After review of the study's findings, Havlat said the board "unanimously" felt that putting any additional money into the 1927 school building was "not a wise way to spend public tax dollars." He noted, "The people of Dorchester would really like to keep their school in Dorchester, and the current board would like to do something so that this school has something to offer for the future." The Times commends the Crete News for its coverage of this important issue and encourages all District 44 voters to pick up the latest edition of the paper.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Dorchester's July 4 Celebration: Today and 99 Years Ago

Today we look back at Dorchester’s 1908 Fourth of July celebration, as we prepare for this year’s Independence Day festivities.

A recent Ebay search uncovered these interesting photos of Dorchester's July 4 events from nearly a century ago. The first photo (above left) depicts the Fourth of July G.A.R. parade, as participants appear to be entering the southern edge of Dorchester on what is most likely Washington Street (Main Street). G.A.R., or the Grand Army of the Republic, was a fraternal organization composed of Union Army veterans who had served in the Civil War. This photo was taken 43 years after the War Between the States had come to an end.

The other photo shows an Independence Day gathering at the old Dorchester fairgrounds. If our Dorchester history is correct, the old fairgrounds were located south of town, near what is today’s Saline County Museum. (Local historians: Please correct us if we are wrong.) The photo was taken by Russell Freidell of Dorchester.

Looking ahead to this year’s celebration, we are told that the Saline County Museum will be open Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. All 11 museum buildings will be open -- and free to the public –- including the old Buckingham School House, log cabin, Dorchester Depot, chapel, farm machinery building, and Henry Burden home. The museum’s main building includes a display of historic American flags. In the chapel is a display of bygone wedding
dresses. Museum representatives tell us that many displays have been improved in the last year.

Here is a reminder of the event schedule for the 2007 Dorchester July 4 celebration:

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. – 4 p.m. ......................... Saline Co. Museum (Free to the public)

10 a.m. ....................................... Show & Shine (Main Street). Tractors & vehicles welcome.

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 **

Sunday, July 1, 2007

School Open House Set For Wednesday

In about two months, School District 44 patrons will go to the polls to decide whether they want to upgrade the Dorchester School campus and replace the main building built in 1927. In the meantime, the Times has learned another school open house will be held Wednesday, July 4, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., for patrons who would like to see conditions for themselves.

According to the information sent to us, all members of the public are welcome to stop by and look around. Tours will be conducted.

As reported previously, the school board is considering a $3.9 million replacement project (Option #2) in lieu of the renovating the school's main 80-year-old structure.

At the July 16 meeting, the board is expected to select a 15-, 20- or 25-year bond schedule. However, voters must first approve the bonding authority in September 11 election before bonds can be issued or reconstruction can begin.

Wednesday's open house will be the school's second in less then 10 weeks. An informational meeting and open house was attended by more than 80 district residents in early May.