Thursday, February 28, 2008

At Least Three Challengers File For School Board

Monday, March 3 marks the deadline for challengers who want to run for the Dorchester School Board. (Residents seeking a seat on the Village Board still have until July 15 to file their paperwork.)

Three school board seats are up for grabs this year. And with at least five candidates to choose from, there will be a contest at the ballot box.

According to the Saline County Clerk/Election Commissioner's office, several area residents have filed as challengers for the District 44 School Board.

Incumbents board members Ron Kahle and Bill Boller have both filed for re-election, according to the Saline County Clerk's office. Incumbent Lori Pracheil has not filed and will not seek re-election since the filing deadline was Feb. 15 for incumbents.

A spokesperson for the county clerk's office told the Times that the following challengers had also filed as of 4:30 p.m. on February 28:

  • Kelli Burkey
  • Lisa Wells
  • Mikki Hoffman

Others wishing to run for the school board have until 5 p.m. Monday to file their paperwork with the Saline County Clerk in Wilber.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

News Briefs: Stay Up-To-Date On DHS Renovation

  • School Expansion Featured On Web Site: Area residents and DHS graduates across the country can now stay up-to-date on the Dorchester Public School renovation as the work is being completed. Updated photos from the construction site are featured on the Web site of Ayars & Ayars, Inc. -- the company in charge of the building project. According to the Web site, "Ayars & Ayars, Inc. latest tilt-up concrete project is also one of the first schools in Nebraska to be built using the design/build project delivery method." Due to the below-average temperatures and harsh winter conditions, the 33,500 square foot project is behind about three weeks, according to last week's Dorchester School Board minutes. Construction managers hope to gain ground when the weather improves.

  • Mitch Kubicek Named New K-12 Principal: In other Dorchester School news, Dorchester School Board members have hired Mitch Kubicek as K-12 principal for the 2008-09 school year. Kubicek was given a one-year contract after a unanimous board vote of 6-0. Kubicek will replace of Brian Redinger, who will become superintendent of schools next school year, when current Superintendent Don Pieper retires. The board also accepted the resignation of Josh Vacek. Next school board meeting is March 10 at 7:30 p.m.

  • Dorchester East Side Bar For Sale: Thanks to a Times' reader, we have been alerted that the owners of the former R-Lounge have placed a longtime piece of Dorchester history for sale on an Internet site. The 24-foot solid walnut bar and its mirrored back bar with lights have been the centerpiece of the East Side Tavern, Last Call, the Longhorn Saloon and Pit Stop Bar & Grill -- all precursors to R-Lounge. The hand carved bar is estimated to be 125-150 years old, and was imported from Europe. Asking price: $25,000. At last check, the building was still for sale, as well, with a listing of $85,000.

  • A Little Dorchester History Everywhere: It's amazing to see relics from Dorchester's past can appear almost anywhere. A recent Internet search uncovered this Portland, Oregon antiques dealer who was selling a 19th century farmhouse screen door from Dorchester. The same site showed "a salvaged mantel from a Dorchester farmstead." It makes us wonder what other valuable bits of history remain in our area's abandoned farmhouses -- and who might be rummaging through them?

Monday, February 18, 2008

Saline County Named To Magazine's Top 100 Places To Live

Progressive Farmer magazine has published its fourth annual "Best Places to Live in Rural America" report -- and Saline County has made the publication's Top 100.

The magazine's editors compiled their list of best rural counties based on certain criteria, including home and land prices; crime rates; environment; education; economic factors; and health care access. Three Nebraska counties made the magazine's top 20 list of Midwest counties. Red Willow County was listed as No. 10, Adams County was ranked as No. 12, and Wayne County was listed as No. 18. Saline County was ranked No. 71. Only five other Nebraska counties made Progressive Farmer's Top 100.

According to the magazine's statistics, Saline County scored well for its low housing costs; low unemployment and poverty rates; student/teacher ratio; large number of college bound students; and average sales tax rate. The county's score was hurt by a slow job growth rate and below-average number of health care clinics and pharmacies. Air quality and rainfall indices were also noticeably below average.

You can vote online for Saline County as your favorite place to live by clicking here. Progressive Farmer's complete list of Top 100 Midwest Counties can be viewed here.

Friday, February 15, 2008

DHS Focusing On Post-Season Performances

The Dorchester boys' basketball squad will take on Pawnee City at 7:45 p.m. Tuesday in the first round of the D1-1 subdistrict tourney at Wilber-Clatonia. The Longhorns are 7-11 on the season, while Pawnee City is 9-11. The subdistrict's top seed is Freeman, with a 13-6 record. The final will be Thursday at 7 p.m. The Longhorns will wrap up their regular season tonight at Giltner.

Meanwhile, Dorchester has two contenders still in their division's title hunt after the first round and quarterfinals Thursday. The results of Day 1 of the Nebraska State Wrestling Tournament are as follows: Craig Dennis, Osmond, pinned Jeremy Inderlied, DHS, 4:43; Chuck Parks, DHS, pinned Joshua Watchorn, Ponca, 3:05; Lucas Apfelbeck, DHS, pinned Brent Evans, Anselmo-Merna, 1:16. Dorchester is currently in the top 10 of all team scores in Class D.

** UPDATE: 2/17, 1:30 p.m.**

The Dorchester wrestling team finished with a total of 36 team points, enough to finish No. 15 in Class D out of 60 teams at the state wrestling tourney. DHS' Chuck Park brought home the bronze in the 215 lb. division by defeating Joe Bob Haas of Hemingford, 6-0. Lucas Apfelbeck took sixth place in the 285 lb. bracket. We at the Times are impressed by the showing of this year's Longhorn grapplers.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Stratton, Neb. Business Provides Model For Other Towns

From southwestern Nebraska comes an encouraging story of a small community coming together for the common good. More importantly, the story highlights a unique business structure that could serve as a model for business ideas aimed at reviving Main Street Dorchester.

The McCook Daily Gazette reports that the new grocery store in Stratton (population 400) plans a grand opening celebration Saturday, offering food specials and samples to entice new shoppers and express appreciation to old shoppers who have returned. Stratton Country Market is a re-creation of grocery stores from the community's past 35 years or so. But this time, there are a couple of twists -- twists that could insure the community support that is vital to the survival of a small-town business: Stratton Country Market's paid staff is supported by a core of volunteers, and all are Stratton-area residents bent on keeping open a local grocery store.

Store manager Gladys Brockway said the community's volunteerism and willingness to support the local effort is what allowed the grocery store's doors to reopen. Several local residents, calling their group StratCom LLC, purchased the building and some equipment at an auction in August 2006. Neither StratCom nor the Stratton Chamber of Commerce could find anyone with the resources to reopen and manage the store, so it sat empty.

Gladys said during the summer of 2006, she realized that not only did Stratton residents need a grocery store, but if the community ever wanted to attract new residents, a grocery store was going to be a must. She went to Stratton banker Bill Zahl and said, ""We need to get a grocery store. And I'll help."

In August and September, Gladys and a group of interested citizens started the groundwork and research necessary to reopen the grocery store. With the support of a group of Stratton citizens -- shareholders and many, many donors -- a new corporation called "Stratton Foods Inc." began the process of leasing the property, purchasing new equipment, improving the electrical system and installing new refrigeration equipment in the last half of 2007. A $70,000 loan from a Hitchcock County community development recapture loan program also helped with start-up costs.

It took a community effort of volunteers to get the store ready to open, Gladys said, "The whole community pulled together to do this," she said -- starting in September 2007 with cleaning, repairing and painting. New floor coverings, new registers, a new price-scanning system. A new office. A new sign. On top of the county loan and in addition to the labor and time it donated, the community kicked in about $112,000 and more than 50 volunteers.

Gladys had $65,000 to stock the new store's shelves, she said, and she studied and studied the Affiliated food book. The store threw open its doors for its first customers Jan. 9, 2008, and the response has been wonderful, Gladys said. "We've seen community support," she said. "We're pleased with the number of shoppers."

The paid staff includes Gladys as manager and Val Rogers as assistant manager, and clerks. "No one was on the payroll until the store opened and turned its first dollar," Gladys said. The store has been open a month now, and the community spirit continues: Volunteers go to Bird City, Kan. every Monday and Thursday to get groceries off the Affiliated truck, and, back in Stratton, unpack the products and stock the shelves.

On a recent Tuesday afternoon, Joyce Johnson of Stratton pushed her grocery cart up and down the store's aisles. She is delighted with the way the store looks -- so bright and so clean. Joyce said she shops here often, " ... because we lost the store once, and I don't want to lose it again."
The Times believes this story serves as a reminder of the importance of shopping locally. Moreover, Stratton's community-owned grocery store serves as a business model that could be used to bring more businesses of all types to our community. The possibilities are endless when individuals bring their time, talent and resources together for the betterment of the community.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Want To Run For Local Office? Here's A Reminder

Editor's Note: The following is a re-print of a story the Times ran on June 25 of last summer.


Every so often, we at the Times receive 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.

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.

Candidates for local races will appear on only the general election ballots in November -- not on the primary election ballots in May.

Those seek election or re-election must submit the proper paperwork to the Saline County Clerk and Elections Commissioner. Filing papers for both the school board and city board are 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

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Times Editorial: A Startling Look At Local Immigrant Arrests

Over the past year, some readers have occasionally submitted comments regarding immigration and its impact on the Saline County community. Fairly or unfairly, some have tied the recent wave of Hispanic immigrants to nearly all aspects of Dorchester-area life -- from schools and public infrastructure, to housing and jobs. And for every critic of mass immigration, there seems to be a defender on the other side.

Until now, we have remained mostly silent on the issue. Today marks our foray into hostile territory.

The Times staff regularly observes the weekly record posted in The Crete News. In recent months, we have noticed a disturbing trend: the rising and disproportionately high number of law enforcement stops and arrests of citizens with Hispanic surnames.

Randomly selected, the weekly record of the Feb. 6 issue of The Crete News shows that 36 percent -- or 21 of 58 -- of the listed stops or arrests involved individuals with Hispanic surnames.

For example, Jose Torres-Cortez of Dorchester was stopped for careless driving. Marcelino Temporal-Padilla of Crete was charged with using the identity of another person to procure a drivers license and to obtain employment, as well as accessing financial resources of the victim.

Felix Cesar Delacruz of Dorchester, listed as a habitual criminal, was booked on felony charges of committing terrorist threats. Ten others were given citations for having no vehicle operator's license or valid form of ID.

It is unknown if these are the individuals' actual names, since this country has no nationally accepted method of identification verification. It is also unknown whether these individuals are in the U.S. legally, since local law enforcement follows a "catch-and-release" policy due to a lack of coordination with federal immigration officials.

We at the Times hesitated to bring forth these observations, since we are all well-versed in the abuses and prejudices suffered by previous generations of immigrants, especially those of German and Czech ancestries -- both of whom held staunchly to their homeland traditions. We print this polemic at the risk of being called xenophobes or worse.

Regardless of the epithets that may be thrown our way, we believe the issue of immigration -- legal and illegal -- deserves serious dicussion, not disinterest. The willingness of recent immigrants to assimilate and abide by our nation's legal code -- including immigration laws -- is impacting our daily lives whether or not we wish to confront the topic. Do we have a say in the matter?

We heed and forward the advice of one nationally syndicated columnist who wrote:

"Don't sit and wait for the fence to get built. It won't be finished under the Bush administration or a McCain administration or an Obama or Clinton administration. What you can do is alert county sheriffs that you want them to work with the feds to end illegal alien catch-and-release policies in your neighborhood. What you can do is stop patronizing businesses that you know are knowingly employing illegal immigrants using fake IDs and stolen Social Security numbers."

This makes perfect sense. Best of all, it is certainly is more productive than complaining only.

Monday, February 11, 2008

News Briefs: DHS Sends Five Wrestlers To State

  • Dorchester High School is sending five wrestlers to this week's state tourney following Saturday's district contests at Tri-County. In the 103 lb. bracket will be Jeremy Inderlied (13-8-9). The 130 lb. bracket will include Joshua Inderlied (23-9-12). Adam Kahle (28-5-10) will represent Dorchester in the 135 lb. group, while Chuck Parks (34-1-12) will be the Horns' grappler in the 215 lb. division. Lucas Apfelbeck (33-3-12) rounds out the DHS state qualifiers by earning a spot in the 285 lb. category. As a team, the DHS wrestlers finished sixth of twelve teams at the Tri-County tournament on Feb. 9. The Times congratulates Dorchester's state qualifiers and the entire DHS wrestling team. The state wrestling tournament will be held Feb. 14-16 at the Qwest Center in Omaha.

  • The DHS girls' basketball team is headed to the Class D-1 subdistricts at Wilber-Clatonia tomorrow (Tuesday) night. The 10-6 Lady Longhorns will face 12-5 Meridian in a 7:45 p.m. contest. The winner will advance to the 7 p.m. final on Thursday. (** UPDATE: 2/13, 10 a.m. ** -- The Lincoln Journal Star reports that in the second semifinal at Wilber-Clatonia, twins Amanda and Amber Hansel combined for 27 of Meridian’s 45 points in a 45-37 win over Dorchester.)

  • Dorchester High School senior Morgan Spanyers and a few of her classmates received some of the spotlight this weekend. Spanyers and seven fellow DHS students participated in Saline County's Democrat caucus on Saturday. Spanyers was quoted by the Lincoln Journal Star as saying: “There’s a lot more older people here than I expected.” After hearing about Chelsea Clinton and Michelle Obama’s visits to UNL late last week, Spanyers said she figured caucusing was a college student’s game. The caucus at Crete's Tuxedo Park yielded fewer than 300 of the county’s 3,800 registered Democrats who came to show their support for either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. That support was evenly divided. When the caucus ended, Obama had 149 votes to Clinton’s 144.