Friday, August 31, 2007

DHS Football Season Opens Tonight

Tonight's 7 p.m. home game against Exeter-Milligan will mark the kick off of the 2007 Longhorn football season.

DHS returns valuable experience at key positions -- including at signal caller -- as the Longhorns become better acquainted with the schemes and play calling of the new coaching staff. The Times has predicted a 30-14 Dorchester win against Exeter-Milligan.

In other DHS sports news, Dorchester's volleyball squad has went 1-1 in its season-opening tourney. The Lady Longhorns swept Southern 2-0, but lost in two games to Johnson-Brock.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Suggestion Box: Comments For The Times

For the past several weeks, we have published separate posts as part of our "Suggestion Box" series. This series was intended to give readers the opportunity to submit comments, recommendations and questions to the Dorchester Village Board, the Dorchester School Board, and the Dorchester Area Community Association.

Today we re-open the "Suggestion Box" -- this time for ourselves, the staff of the Dorchester Times. We want to know your thoughts about our publication after five months and 113 stories.

What do you like best about the Times? What do you like least? What would you do differently and what would you keep the same? And how do you suggest we improve our product?

As we have stated from the earliest days of this publication: The success of the Times depends on the feedback from our readers. We value the input of all our readers.

Now, fire away...

Update: Fight In Friend Over Doctor's Suspension Coming To End?

Since many Dorchester residents receive their health care services in Friend, we felt it was important to mention an update in today's Lincoln Journal Star.

As some of our readers know, Friend's hospital board voted in 2006 to suspend Dr. Robert McKeeman's hospital privileges. Last month, the board reaffirmed its position to prohibit the town's longtime doctor from seeing patients at Warren Memorial Hospital. Today, however, the Lincoln newspaper reports that McKeeman may be able to treat patients at the hospital again soon.

"Friend mayor and Warren Memorial Hospital board member Jim Vossler said Wednesday that the five-member board was working to restore the hospital privileges" of McKeeman. “We are working every day to get him reinstated. It’s just a matter of some little legal technicalities with some lawyers,” Vossler said.

According to the Journal Star, "McKeeman was barred from performing surgeries and admitting patients to the hospital and emergency room in January 2006. Then-administrator Amy Fish cited 'quality of care issues' as the reason for the suspension. A closed hearing was held at McKeeman’s request, and Dr. Louis Burgher of Omaha recommended that McKeeman be given the chance to resign or face a two-year suspension. McKeeman declined to resign, and the hospital board voted in July 2006 to suspend his hospital privileges for three years.

"Those three years aren’t yet up, but things have changed since last summer. In April, Fish resigned, and in May, a new CEO, John Wilson, took her place. In July, two of the hospital board members who voted to continue McKeeman’s suspension — Gary Tuttle and Jim Niemeier — resigned, as did the only other doctor on staff at Warren Memorial Hospital in Friend, William Dailey. And the hospital has lost patients in the last year, Vossler said, as those loyal to McKeeman have gone elsewhere. The nursing home has suffered too, Wilson said. Although the care center has space for 56 residents, just 33 people live there. “'We have financial problems,' Vossler said. 'We need to get more patients in there.'

"Sarah Yokel, a former Warren Memorial Hospital administrator who attended Tuesday’s meeting, said she feared that some people had forgotten about the original issue – McKeeman’s suspension – once they realized that the hospital could close. Yokel said she believed the hospital board had good reason for suspending McKeeman. During the 23 years that she worked at the hospital, she said, she noticed issues with the quality of care McKeeman was providing, though she declined to elaborate. But like just about everyone in Friend, Yokel wants the community of 1,200 to keep its hospital. And for the hospital to remain open, Vossler said, it’s going to need more patients.

"Although the ordeal has been painful and embarrassing, McKeeman said he would return to the Friend hospital. 'I am gratified than an attempt is being made to reinstate my privileges and the clear my name,' he said."

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Looking Back: Thompson Pony Farm & Rodeo

Today we look back at one of the most intriguing pieces of Dorchester's past: the Thompson Rodeo and Elmwood Pony Farm.

Owned and operated by Colonel W.J. Thompson, the Elmwood Pony Farm was located in the northeast part of Dorchester -- on 10th Street, between Lincoln and Fulton Avenues.

Dating back to the 1890s, the Thompson pony farm was one of the largest pony farms west of the Mississippi River, according to the Dorchester Centennial history book. By the 1920s, the pony farm contained more than 300 ponies.

The pony farm was a popular destination for children from miles around. Children who lived on the farm were even permitted to take home a pony and ride it all summer, if they agreed to keep it fed well.

Each September, Colonel Thompson took as many as 35 Shetland ponies to the State Fair for rides. He entered many more of the animals in the fair's show contests. All of the ponies were herded overland from Dorchester to Lincoln by Thompson farm employees.

In 1930, Colonel Thompson's son, Wallace, started the Thompson rodeo. It was usually a three-day event held each fall, complete with fighting broncos, cowboys, clowns, trick riders, cowgirls, bull doggers, concessions, rides, dancing and "whoopee."

The Dorchester rodeo attracted many top riders from around the country, as well as local talent. An Oklahoma rider even came within 0.7 seconds of the world's record in calf roping at the Dorchester Rodeo.

At one time, more than 7,000 spectators were reported in attendance at the Dorchester Rodeo. Many people had high hopes that Dorchester would become a permanent rodeo on the famous circuit that included Cheyenne Frontier Days, as well as the Burwell and Sidney rodeos.

But by 1940, the rodeo hit a spell of heavy rain and events were cancelled. By 1942, the country was fighting WWII and the Thompson Rodeo closed its doors for good, becoming another relic of our community's history.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Sept. 8 Glow Ball Golf Tourney Will Raise Funds For Fire Dept.

Readers of the Dorchester Times have an opportunity to help raise money for the Dorchester Volunteer Fire Department -- and have some fun doing it.

The fire department is sponsoring a glow ball golf tournament at the Friend Country Club on September 8. There will be a dinner and social time before play begins. This is a wonderful way to support the DVFD.

For more information or to sign up, please call the Friend Country Club at (402) 947-6501. Businesses can also sponsor a hole for $50 or donate prizes.
** UPDATE: 9/2/07, 2 p.m **

The DVFD glow ball golf tourney will begin at 7 p.m. The Department has several sponsors, meaning lots of prizes for golfers. Sign up to play ASAP by calling the Friend Country Club at 947-6501.

Monday, August 27, 2007

School Project BBQ and Presentation Tonight

Tonight (Aug. 27), members of the Dorchester School Improvement Project (DSIP) Committee are holding a free grill-out for all patrons of Dorchester Public School.

The event will begin with the free Bar-B-Que and school tours at 6 p.m. Around 7 p.m., the event will move into the gymnasium where board members, DSIP members and an architect will take part in an informative presentation on the proposed $4 million school project.

With the special election only two weeks away, we encourage all District 44 residents to learn more about the proposed project. This includes both those opposed and supportive of the school board's bond request, as well as those patrons who are undecided.

At worst, you'll come away with a free meal. At best, you'll have a more informed perspective when you enter the voting booth on Sept. 11 -- regardless of how you vote.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Dissecting Dorchester's Demographic Data

For years, many of us have heard that our community needs more young families with good incomes. So we asked ourselves: How does Dorchester compare to surrounding communities when it comes to residents' ages, family sizes and income levels?

We examined Dorchester's household data provided by the U.S. Census Bureau and compared the figures to those from nearby towns. Although the most recent census data is already more than a few years old, we believe these figures are still worth a look.

In 2000, Dorchester had 248 households -- of which only about 33% had children under the age of 18. About 25% of households were non-families; 23.4% of all households were made up of individuals; and 12.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.5 and the average family size was 2.9, the same as Friend. In Milford and Wilber, the average family size was 3.0; in Crete, it was 3.13.

Dorchester's population was spread out with 25% under the age of 18; nearly 8% were from 18 to 24, 28.6% were from 25 to 44; just over 20% were from 45 to 64; and and 18% were 65 years of age or older. The median age in Dorchester was 38 years old, the same as Wilber. In Crete, the median age was 30 years; in Milford, it was 28. But in Friend, it was 44 years old, clearly the oldest population in the area.

The median income for a household in Dorcheter was $34,000, and the median income for a family was $40,982. That is comparable to Friend, where the median family income was $40,667. Dorchester was also similar to Crete in this category, which had a median family income of $43,295. But both Milford and Wilber had noticeably higher family incomes than our village. In Milford, the median income for a family was $51,012. In Wilber, the number was $45,556 for family income.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

DHS Sports Preview Set For Tomorrow

With only one week remaining until the official kickoff of the DHS fall sports schedule, Longhorn fans will be given a chance tomorrow (Aug. 24) to preview this year's Dorchester teams.

A special event featuring scrimmages of both the volleyball and football teams will be held Friday evening at the school. The DHS Fall Sports Preview will begin at 5:30 p.m.

The Gatorade volleyball scrimmage will get underway at 6 p.m. The Gatorade football scrimmage will start at 7:30 p.m.

Both teams have high expectations this season. Longhorn fans are encouraged to meet and hear from the players and coaches who will lead the "Orange and Black Attack" this season.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Publication: Dorchester Home To Two 'Haunted' Sites

Occasionally, we like to take a light-hearted look at the more obscure aspects of our community. We thought our readers might get a kick out of a new Web site called

According to the site -- which bills itself as "the ultimate collection of the strange" -- the Dorchester area has two "officially haunted" sites: Gilbert's Cemetery and the Dorchester School boiler room. According to the site, no other Saline County locations are listed as "haunted".

Regarding the school's boiler room, the Web site says that many decades ago, a child "locked himself in the boiler room and died." According to the site
, school janitors today sometimes hear yells coming from the boiler room during the night -- and "when they go down into the boiler room, they don't find anyone."

Regarding "Gilbert's haunted graveyard", the Web site states that the cemetery is haunted by the Gilbert family and other pioneers of the late 1800s. "Strange noises and the movement of the tombstone are just the tip of this site," the site reports. Of course, Gilbert himself is not buried at the cemetery. His ashes are at Friend's Library.

For readers who do not know, John Gilbert was the son of Jonas Gilbert, one of Saline County's first commissioners. John Gilbert "never belonged to any church ... and called himself an agnostic," according to the Dorchester Centennial history book. In the late 19th century, Dr. Frank Hamilton of Friend once asked Gilbert to renounce his agnosticism and embrace Christianity. That is when Gilbert allegedly "went into a seizure for about two minutes, his muscles jerked, his eyes became bloodshot, his face became congested and red, his mouth became dry, and he kept wiping his lips with his tongue. During the attack, he venomously cursed God." Gilbert later donated money to build a library in Friend, on the condition his anti-God books would be on the shelves.

You can explore for yourself. We're certain that Times readers will have their own opinions regarding this odd stop on the World Wide Web.

Suggestion Box: Comments For DACA

This marks the third post in our "Suggestion Box" series. Today we want to provide Times readers the opportunity to submit comments, recommendations and questions for the Dorchester Area Community Association (DACA).

As most readers know, DACA is Dorchester’s main community activity group. The organization's primary purpose is to organize social activities and improve the quality of life for Dorchester residents.
DACA meets the second Tuesday of every month at the Community Center at 7 p.m. DACA is always looking for enthusiastic individuals who want to better the community. For more information or to join, e-mail Dale Hayek at

Again, we ask Times readers to keep their comments civil and thoughtful -- just as if you were speaking to DACA members face-to-face. Better yet, we suggest that area residents stop in the next DACA meeting, tentatively set for Sept. 11.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

DHS Alum Kelly Vyhnalek Graduates From UNO

Dorchester alumnus Kelly Vyhnalek earlier this month received his bachelor's degree from the University of Nebraska-Omaha, according to a UNO news release.

Vyhnalek is a 1989 graduate of DHS and a Navy veteran.

More than 500 UNO students received degrees on Aug. 10. Vyhnalek attended UNO's college of public affairs and community service. A celebration ceremony was held at the Dorchester Community Building on Aug. 18.

We at the Times salute Kelly on his successful pursuit of higher education.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Poll Shows Concerns In Rural Nebraska

A Times reader ("90s Grad") pointed us to a news item that appeared recently in the Grand Island Independent. According to the story, a new poll finds that Nebraska's rural residents remain positive about their own communities. But many are concerned about what tomorrow holds for their small towns.

The 12th annual Nebraska Rural Poll was conducted by researchers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The survey found that residents find more reason for worry as farms grow fewer but larger -- and rural communities see an increasing out-migration of young residents. About 45 percent of respondents said they are better off than they were five years ago, compared with a 12-year low of 32 percent following the drought of 2002. Only 15 percent said they are worse off.

Most rural Nebraskans expressed positive sentiments about their communities. About two-thirds agreed with the statement, "My community is very special to me." About two-thirds agreed with the statement, "I feel I can really be myself in my community."

The poll found rural residents satisfied with basic services, such as fire protection, library services and religious organizations. But about 35 percent of respondents expressed dissatisfaction with entertainment, shopping, restaurants, streets and roads, arts/cultural activities and local government in their community -- all factors they believed that were leading to increased out-migration.

Even more of a concern is that the poll showed that younger respondents were more likely to be dissatisfied with their community's services. For example, the poll found that 60 percent of respondents 19 to 39 years old were dissatisfied with entertainment options, while only 28 percent of people over 65 were.

Bruce Johnson, an agricultural economist who's part of the Rural Poll team, said some of those individual indicators "aren't very positive." "That doesn't bode well for retaining as well as attracting younger individuals and families," Johnson said. He said an evolving rural population and certain needs and amenities of rural areas are going to take on increasing importance.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

New School Year Brings Some Policy Changes To DPS

In less than one week, the school bells will ring again at Dorchester Public School. Students will return to classes on Monday, August 20.

According to the Dorchester School newsletter, there are several changes that parents and students should note:
  • School will begin at 8:10 a.m. this year for both elementary and junior/high school students.

  • Dorchester Public Schools will have a close campus this year. All students, except seniors, must remain on campus throughout the school day. Students may not walk home or downtown for lunch.

  • Parents must call the school office by 9 a.m. if their student is going to be absent. The school will likely contact you if they have not heard from an absent student's parents by 9 a.m.

  • Under new state law that took effect last year, students entering school for the first time, including kindergartners and transfer students from out of state, must provide proof of a vision evaluation within six months prior to the student starting school. The vision evaluation is in addition to the physical exam.
For details on these changes, as well as school supply requirements, sports schedules and other important information, see the August-September edition of the school newsletter.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Reports: R-Lounge Closes Doors Permanently

Several sources now confirm that the R-Lounge in downtown Dorchester has permanently closed its doors.

The tavern and restaurant had marked its one-year anniversary only about a month ago.

In the last 15 years, the tavern on Dorchester's east side has also been occupied by the Last Call Bar, the Longhorn Saloon, and the Pit Stop bar and grill.

No other details regarding the closing of R-Lounge or prospective buyers were immediately available.

DSIP Members Discuss Voter Registration, Upcoming Events

Last Thursday marked the second meeting of the Dorchester School Improvement Project (DSIP) Committee -- a group of Dorchester School district residents who support the proposed new school construction, which will be decided on Sept. 11.

According to information provided to the Times, DSIP members attending the meeting were given a detailed presentation of the new school buildings as planned by architect Christy Joy.

Afterwards, DSIP members discussed the importance of ensuring that all school district patrons are registered to vote. Voter registration forms may be picked up at the Village Office. Mailed registrations must be received by the Saline County Clerk no later than August 24, with a copy of the voter's driver’s license. Voters may also register in person at the County Clerk’s office on or before August 31. Applications for absentee ballots are available at the Village Office or the County Clerk’s office.

The Times has learned that donations have been made to the DSIP Committee to help defray costs of promoting the building project. DSIP leaders say that anyone interested in making a donation may call the committee’s treasurer, Deanna Bird.

Presentations on the building project are planned for the upcoming meetings of various Dorchester organizations, including the American Legion, the Legion Auxiliary and the Methodist Women.
All school district patrons are invited to learn more about the building project at Sheryll’s West Side Saloon on Wednesday, August 22 at 7 a.m.

District patrons are also encouraged to support Dorchester athletes at the DHS sports preview on August 24. Hot dogs will be provided by DSIP. Dorchester School patrons are also invited to a grill-out on Monday, August 27, which will include tours and a presentation about the school project.

The next DSIP meeting will be this Wednesday, August 15th at 8 p.m. in the school cafeteria.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Dorchester's Stich Is Co-Owner Of Waverly Vet Clinic

Dorchester-area native and DHS graduate Kelly Stich has returned to Nebraska and started Hillcrest Animal Clinic in Waverly, according to the Waverly News. The clinic is a horse and small animal veterinary facility owned by Stich and her husband Pat McInteer of Falls City.

According to the Waverly News, Stich and McInteer were married two years ago and started their own private practice in Albany, N.Y. The couple moved back to Nebraska last September to be closer to their families. The facility has been up and running since the beginning of May. The couple makes house calls for horse care when necessary, but encourages use of the facility.

McInteer and Stich both received their Bachelors degree from UNL and their Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from Kansas State University. After vet school, Stich worked at Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and in a Texas practice. Stich is board certified in veterinary reproduction with a focus on equine reproduction. She is also a veterinary chiropractor offering adjustments for horses and dogs. Her parents, from Dorchester, work on a farm and her father teaches agriculture at the Southeast Community College in Beatrice. The couple has a nine-month-old son, Chase.

Hillcrest Animal Clinic's office hours are from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. For more information about the clinic or to make an appointment, contact the office at 402-785-1025 or visit their website

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Suggestion Box: Comments For The School Board

A couple of weeks ago, we ran the first in our "Suggestion Box" series, providing Times readers the opportunity to submit comments and questions for elected officials serving on the Dorchester Village Board. We received a spectrum of comments, ranging from topics such as rental housing for illegal aliens, to incentives to attract a biodiesel plant, to requests to explore paving the streets. Many other suggestions were made, all of which can be seen by clicking here.

Today we re-open the "Suggestion Box" -- this time for the members of the Dorchester School Board. While we suspect that the school construction and bond issue will dominate the discussion, we remind readers that any issue related to the school is germane to this forum.

Again, we ask readers to keep their comments civil and thoughtful -- just as if you were attending a public meeting or speaking to board members face-to-face. Also, please keep in mind that school board members, like other local leaders, are volunteers. They deserve your respect.

Now, fire away...

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Church Community Auction Set For Sept. 16

The Times has learned that the Dorchester United Methodist Church’s 20th Annual Community Auction will be held Sunday, September 16. Dorchester area residents are strongly encouraged to join the fun “under the tent” south of the church building. Auction items are currently being accepted at the church. Some items already promised or received include: oak shelf with quilt bar; oak coat/hat rack; baby afghans and dolls with afghans; a day of hunting for a youth; canned items; goat soap; horseradish; cornhusker man’s watch; frozen ducks; John Deere wall d├ęcor; southeast Nebraska cookbook collection; Hallmark ice cream serving set; Mexican fiesta for six; and children’s giving bank & gift certificates.

The day's event also includes a BBQ and bake sale. For more information on donating auction items, contact Vicky Parks 946-4691 or Carol Olson 946-3531.

Cash donations of all amounts are being accepted. The donations will be used to purchase a weekend get-away that will be auctioned off under the tent on auction day. For information on cash donations, contact Bernice Weber at 946-4191. Also, all the children are invited to bring a cake for the cake auction -- and bring grandpa and grandma, too, to raise the stakes. For information on the cake auction, call Lindsay Zoubek at 946-2198.

Finally, bring your surplus garden produce to the free-will country market.

Monday, August 6, 2007

DSIP To Meet Thursday; School Vote Still Set For Sept. 11

A group of Dorchester School patrons who support the proposed new construction project have chosen an official name for their organization. The Dorchester School Improvement Project (DSIP) Committee will meet again this Thursday, August 9, at 8 p.m. in the school cafeteria.

According to Donna Havlat, DSIP Committee spokesperson, "the issues with the builders" -- including a reported discrepancy on the project's estimated cost of -- have apparently been resolved. The Sept. 11 special election on the proposed $4 million bond issue will continue as planned, Havlat said.

DSIP encourages all school district patrons to ensure they are registered to vote. Those who are not registered, or are uncertain of their voting status, should visit the Saline County clerk's office (402-821-2374 or e-mail For those who will be out of town Sept. 11, absentee ballots can be requested from the county clerk.

School district patrons interested in joining the DSIP Committee or assisting with educational efforts are asked to call co-chairs Kelly Feeken (946-4501) or Donna Havlat (826-5449).

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Longhorns Aim High As New Season Nears

Only 25 days remain before the kick off of the 2007 Longhorn football season. Off-the-record conversations with both DHS football coaches confirm there is reason for much optimism this season, despite some key losses from last year's state-qualifying team, which suffered a 34-12 first-round loss to Winside.

DHS returns valuable experience at some key positions -- including at signal caller -- as the Longhorns become better acquainted with the schemes and play calling of the new coaching staff. We look for a solid showing on Nerud Field this year.

This year's DHS team will again be bracketed in Class D-1, district 1. There are few rule changes affecting gridiron play this season. However, the 35-point rule will again be in effect for all high school class play, requiring the game clock to run continuously whenever a 35-point differential in score is reached after the first half.

Here is this season's DHS schedule, according to the Nebraska School Activities Association. Our predictions follow in parentheses:

Dorchester 2007 Football Schedule

WEEK 1: Aug. 31 -- Exeter-Milligan @ home. (Times predicts win: DHS 30, EM 14)
WEEK 2: Sept. 9 -- @ Southeast NE Consolidated. (Times predicts win: DHS 35, SE 14)
WEEK 3: Sept. 14 - Meridian @ home. (Times predicts win: DHS 42, Meridian 12.)
WEEK 4: Sept. 21 - @ Humboldt-Table Rock-Steinauer. (Times predicts win: DHS 14, HTR 8)
WEEK 5: Sept. 28 - Diller-Odell @ home. (Times predicts win: DHS 42, DO 30)
WEEK 6: Oct. 5 --- @ Johnson-Brock. (Times predicts loss: JB 24, DHS 21)
WEEK 7: Oct. 12 - @ Freeman. (Times predicts win: DHS 48, Freeman 21)
WEEK 8: Oct. 19 - Pawnee City @ home. (Times predicts win: DHS 30, Pawnee City 21)

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Looking Back: Dorchester's Grain Elevators

The grain elevator has always been a staple of our community, even in Dorchester's earliest days. But the elevator has changed a bit over the years -- in both name and physical appearance.

In 1881, when Dorchester was officially incorporated, Dorchester had two grain elevators. The drought of the 1890s, however, reduced that number to just one elevator a decade later. In the late 1910s and early 1920s, soaring land prices and plummeting grain prices brought the expanding farm economy to an abrupt halt. The 1920 Dorchester Farmers Cooperative had an operational loss of $3,203 -- the only year with a net loss in the history of the company.

Despite some lean years, the cooperative survived and later thrived. The 1940s and 1960s brought massive expansion to Dorchester's grain storage facilities.

Today, the elevator and its storage bins dominate the Dorchester skyline. Farmers Cooperative serves as an economic hub for the area, and is comprised of sepearte energy, grain, feed, and agronomy departments. While its corporate office is in Dorchester, Farmers Cooperative owns facilities in 35 other communities, including DeWitt, Milford, Swanton, Tobias, Western and Wilber. Total operating revenues are estimated at $12.5 million, according to the cooperative Web site.

Dorchester's grain storage facilities and farmers cooperative have certainly come a long way. We are proud of the contribution that our cooperative and its producer members make to our town and local economy. Let's not take for granted the struggles endured to get where we are in 2007.

Dorchester's earliest elevators, circa 1885.

The J.R. Clark elevator pictured in 1908.

The fire at the east elevator in the 1950s.

Ariel view of the Co-op, 1950s.

Today's Farmers Cooperative in Dorchester.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Fight in Friend Over Doctor's Suspension

Because many Dorchester residents receive their health care treatment next door in Friend, we felt it was important to highlight a story appearing in today's Lincoln Journal Star.

According to today's Journal Star, Dr. Robert McKeeman, whose hospital privileges were suspended in January 2006, will still not be allowed to see patients at Friend's Warren Memorial Hospital. The article states that "despite the urging of McKeeman’s patients to allow their doctor to treat patients in the hospital, the hospital board took no action on the issue at their Tuesday night meeting.

"The hospital board voted to suspend McKeeman from performing surgeries and admitting patients to the hospital and emergency room for three years, citing quality-of-care issues. The state conducted an investigation into McKeeman’s practices and last month said they found no evidence of wrongdoing. But in the meantime, a rift had formed in the Saline County community between those who supported the board’s decision and those who didn’t. And in April, McKeeman filed a lawsuit against Warren Memorial Hospital and the clinic affiliated with it; the city of Friend, which owns the hospital; the five hospital board members; the two other Friend doctors; and former hospital Administrator Amy Fish. The suit is pending.

“(R)esidents, like Shirley Fox-Thomsen, said she didn’t want to use the hospital if she couldn’t see McKeeman, a longtime Friend doctor who rides his bicycle to house calls and telephones his elderly patients on their birthdays. Brenda Manning, director of the radiology department at Warren Memorial Hospital, said she feared that Friend’s hospital would suffer in the long run if McKeeman’s patients maintain that attitude. Already, she said, some patients have taken their business elsewhere, adding that it has been difficult to see the town divided."