Thursday, October 30, 2008

Dorchester Students Hold Election

Election Day is still five days away, but the students of Dorchester have already cast their votes and made their voices heard at the ballot box.

Yesterday, Oct. 29, the students of Dorchester Middle School and High School held their mock election. The event even drew news cameras from KLKN-TV, Channel 8 in Lincoln, according to David Kampmann, high school social studies teacher.

So which candidates won the Dorchester student vote? Here they are, according to the office sought:
  • President: John McCain
  • U.S. Senate: Mike Johanns
  • House of Representatives: Adrian Smith
In a special ballot question, the students of Dorchester voted against allowing Internet voting.

In less than a week, the students of Dorchester will know the political leanings of their fellow Nebraskans and Americans.

Dorchester Residents On IRS Refund List

Are you wondering where your economic stimulus or regular refund check is? The IRS has more than 1400 Economic Stimulus and Regular Refund checks waiting for Nebraska taxpayers. And there are two Dorchester addresses on Uncle Sam's list.

The two Dorchester listings are:
  • SCHMALE, DWAYNE & SHARON

  • SCHMIDT, AUDRA J
The checks came back as undeliverable because of an address problem. Taxpayers must update their information to get their money. Taxpayers can update their information by going to "Where's My Stimulus Payment?" or "Where's My Refund?" at www.IRS.gov.

Taxpayers without Internet access can call 1-866-234-2942 for stimulus payment information and can access the telephone version of "Where's My Refund?" by calling 1-800-829-1954.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Readers Vote For Dorchester's Best Halloween Home

Times' readers are sounding off. They are letting us know which of the many autumn decorations and Halloween displays throughout town are their favorite. And we are keeping count of the votes.

As of 4 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 28, the top three vote recipients are:
1.) The Briggs home.


2.) The Henning home.



3.) The Hostetler home.


There is still time to vote for your favorite Halloween home. From now until Oct. 31, you can tell us which Dorchester area home you think best displays the festive fall spirit, so that readers may check out the decorations for themselves. ( * UPDATE 10/31, 3:30 p.m. * -- Even with a few more votes from readers, the final results above are unchanged. Congratulations to the three families. Your hard work is appreciated by your fellow Dorchester citizens.)

Monday, October 27, 2008

Girls Softball Clinic Set For Nov. 9 At Doane

Dorchester area girls interested in improving their softball skills should make note of the upcoming softball clinic to be held at Doane College on Nov. 9 from 1-3 p.m.

The clinic is for girls ages 7-18 and will be conducted by Doane College softball staff and players. Held in Furhrer Fieldhouse, the clinic will cover hitting, fielding, pitching and base running.

Deadline for sign-up is this Friday, Oct. 31. Cost is $15 per player. Call Josi at (402) 826-4315 to register or for more details.

Children's Wellness Day This Wednesday

Wednesday is Wellness Day at Dorchester Public Schools.

A "developmental wellness check-up" will be offered for all area children age 5 and under this Wednesday, Oct. 29, from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. The check-ups will be conducted at the school, according to Cheryl Perkins, speech and language teacher at DPS.

This wellness check-up is free and completely voluntary. It will also be conducted in a confidential manner. However, it is available by appointment only.

Please call Dorchester School at (402) 946-2781 to schedule an appointment for your child. When it comes to children's health, early intervention counts.

School Board Votes To Expand Crossroads Conference

By a 5-1 vote, the Dorchester Board of Education has voted to allow Osceola and Shelby Public Schools to join the Crossroads Conference.

The vote highlighted the Oct. 13 school board meeting. Board members Kahle, Hansen, Bors, Pracheil and Havlat voted to extend an invitation to Osceola and Shelby to join the CRC. Board member Boller cast the lone vote of opposition, according to the meeting minutes.

In other school matters, Dorchester Principal Kubicek reported that student test scores indicate "math computation is an area that needs to be improved." The causes of this concern were discussed along with future curriculum structure.

The board was informed that formal teacher evaluations have begun this month.

During the meeting's committee reports, the Building and Grounds Committee discussed several items related to the new school, including: a plan on securing a new electronic scoreboard for the multi-purpose gym; the multipurpose gym's sound system; concern with wet spots in the new wrestling room; parking lot drainage; acoustics in the band room/stage area; a proposed bell monument; basketball goals for playground; condition of the Industrial Tech building; bids for additional lighting on south side of school; and the establishment of a master maintenance schedule.

By unanimous consent, the school board approved the October expenditures for the General Fund and Special Building Fund.

The next meeting of the school board will take place Monday, Nov. 10, at 7:30 p.m.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Bruha Noted As A State Leader In Tackles, Punting

The Longhorns football team ended their 2008 gridiron campaign on a down note Friday, losing their season finale to the dragons of Deshler, 44-16.

Although the season was marred by injuries to three standout players, there were plenty of positives, including the experience gained by underclassmen who will need to be ready for next season.

While we are sure the players at DHS are disappointed in their team's record, we cannot fail to note the accolades earned by individual Longhorns. As noted in the Lincoln Journal Star, DHS senior Longhorn Brandon Bruha continues to be one of the state's accomplished football players, regardless of class size and despite missing several games due to a knee injury.

In recorded tackles, Bruha is No. 13 in the state, among all classes of schools, accumulating 18 unassisted tackles and 70 assisted tackles, for a total of 88.

When it comes to punting the pigskin, Bruha booted the ball 21 times this year for an average of 40.9 yards per punt. That total earns him the No. 2 spot in the state, again, among all schools. We tip our Longhorn helmet to Brandon for his stellar play this season and throughout his DHS career.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

12.5% Sewer, 7% Electric Rate Hikes Begin Nov. 1

Beginning Nov. 1, Dorchester residents will face a 12.5% increase in village sewer rates and a 7% hike in electric rates. The rate increases are the result of decisions made at last month's Dorchester Village Board meeting.

According to the board's Sept. 2 meeting minutes -- which were not published until Oct. 15 -- board members Slepicka, Pracheil, Axline and Schmale all voted in favor of the rate increases. Board member Cerny was absent.

With the unanimous decision, Dorchester's sewer rates will be raised from $16 to $18, while electricity rates will increase 7% -- a much lower rate of increase compared to the electricity rate hikes facing residents of many other Nebraska cities, including Omaha (15%) and Lincoln (12%).

In other actions taken by the village board at its September meeting, members unanimously voted to provide $8,000 for supplies and a Jaws-of-Life device for the DVFD. Another $7,000 from KENO funds was approved for the Nerud Field improvement project.

In addition to large bills for electric service and sheriff patrol costs, major monthly expenses approved by the board included more than $6,300 for city employee wages; $8,000 for Blue Cross/Blue Shield Insurance benefits; and $3,702 for services provide by Micek & Crouch Professional Services. The board unanimously approved a motion to exceed the village budget limit by 1%.

Following a closed session to "discuss personnel issues," board members unanimously voted to appoint Jessica Tuttle as village clerk and Linda Roberts as deputy clerk.

DHS Falls To No. 1 Seed Clay Center At CRC

On Monday evening, Class D-2's No. 1 Clay Center (20-1) toppled the Lady Longhorns at the Crossroads Conference volleyball tournament in York.

Clay Center, the tourney's top seed, swept DHS in three straight sets, even though in a home contest last week the Lady Longhorns had Clay Center on the ropes and forced a fifth set.

Dorchester, now 11-11 on the season, is currently ranked 37th in Class D-1's 62-team field.

The Lady Longhorns will take on Lincoln's Parkview Christian next Tuesday, Oct. 28, in DHS' final home contest.

For those who missed Saturday's CRC action, the York News-Times has a good wrap-up of Dorchester's first-round victory over McCool Junction, which "could not stop Dorchester’s Karmen Lawver" and the serving attack of Wendy Boller, according to the News-Times.

The York newspaper also has a photo gallery of the Lady Longhorns in action.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Submit Your Nominations For Best Halloween Home

Take a stroll through our town of Dorchester and you will find some creative autumn decorations and Halloween displays.

We want to know which Dorchester area homes you think best display the festive fall spirit so that readers may check out the decorations for themselves. What Dorchester residence gets your vote for best Halloween home?

Let us know your nomination in the comments section of this post. Or e-mail your favorites at Dorchester.Times@gmail.com.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

SPORTS UPDATE: DHS Rolls Through First Round Of CRC Tourney

In Saturday's first round of the Crossroads Conference Tournament in York, the Lady Longhorns of DHS defeated McCool Junction in four sets, 25-17, 21-25, 25-15, 25-15.

The Lady Longhorns, now 11-10 on the season, are playing their best volleyball yet, according to several observers, including parents and an southeast Nebraska sportswriter. Saturday's win could be enough to propel DHS into the top half of Class D-1's 62-team standings.

In other CRC action, Rising City defeated High Plains Community (Polk-Hordville-Clarks).

The Lady Longhorns will resume action Monday in the second round of the CRC Tourney at the York City Auditorium.

Friday, October 17, 2008

NEWS BRIEFS: Kids' Halloween Party Oct. 24 At Tabor Hall

  • Tabor Hall Plans Halloween Party For K-6 Students: The Times has learned that a Halloween party is planned for Dorchester K-6 students this Friday, Oct. 24, from 5-7 p.m. at Tabor Hall, five miles south of town on County Road 1400. All Dorchester elementary school students and their families are invited for food, fun, and games. There will be a costume contest with prizes, as well as contests with awards. Hot dogs and chips will be served. Following the Halloween party, children may return to the school for movie night starting at 7 p.m. Parents with questions should call Laura Sysel at (402) 946-6961.

  • DVFD Hosting Safe House On Halloween: As the trick-or-treaters hit the streets again this year, members of the Dorchester Volunteer Fire Dept. will again be hosting a Halloween Safe House. The DVFD Safe House will be open for the kids on Oct. 31 from 5 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. at the Fire Hall.

  • DVFD Fire Hall Marker Is Latest Main Street Improvement: Area residents traveling Dorchester's Washington Avenue have been treated to an impressive sight as a new stone and brick marker stands proudly in front the Dorchester Fire Hall. Members of the DVFD want to thank Klein Construction for erecting the new marker, according to DVFD Secretary Bret Cerny. The marker, which recognizes the year in which the DVFD was established (1914), was built using the Ed Smith Memorial Fund, Cerny told the Times.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

DHS Takes First At Shickley

Congratulations go out to the DHS Lady Longhorns, who rode into the Shickley Triangular and came away with a first place finish on Tuesday.

DHS defeated McCool Junction 20-25, 25-14, 25-17 in the first contest. Then in a face-off with hometown Shickley, Dorchester defeated SHS in two straight -- 25-20, 31-29 -- to take the first place trophy.

The Lady Longhorns, now 10-9 on the season, will be in action again tomorrow (Oct. 16) when they take on Class D-2's No. 2 Clay Center (18-0) at home in a 7 p.m. match-up. (UPDATE: 10/16, 11 p.m. -- In one of the Lady Longhorn's best performances yet of the 2008 season, undefeated Clay Center nipped DHS Thursday evening in five hard-fought sets, 25-15, 21-25, 21-25, 26-24, 15-8. The Longhorns must now quickly get ready for the CRC Tournament at York on Saturday.)

In Search Of Dorchester's Haunts

As Halloween approaches, the Times takes another look at Dorchester area locations that are rumored to be haunted.

The Times has previously reported a Web site called StrangeUSA.com. According to the site -- which bills itself as "the ultimate collection of the strange" -- the Dorchester area had been home to two "officially haunted" sites: Gilbert's Cemetery and the Dorchester School boiler room, which no longer exists following the demolition of the 1927 school. Doane College is the only other Saline County location listed as "haunted".

Regarding the old 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 heard yells coming from the boiler room during the night. Is there any truth to the story? We're still trying to resolve the mystery, but it seems most who worked at the old school discount the tale.

Regarding Gilbert's graveyard, the StrangeUSA Web site says 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 public 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 1800s, Dr. Frank Hamilton of Friend once asked Gilbert to 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 that his anti-God books would be on the shelves.

Another Web site, TheShadowlands.net, also lists both Dorchester sites on its "Haunted Places Index." Explore StrangeUSA.com and TheShadowlands.net for yourself. Undoubtedly, Times readers will have their own opinions regarding these odd stops on the World Wide Web.

And let us know what you think of the stories, or if you know about other scary places in the Dorchester area that the Web sites may have overlooked.

(This article was first published in Oct. 2007.)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

NEWS BRIEFS: Museum Open House This Sunday

  • Saline County Open House This Sunday: The Saline County Museum in Dorchester will host an open house this Sunday, Oct. 12, from 1-5 p.m. The program will begin at 2 p.m. Les Vilda will perform a comedy spoof on the old original medicine shows of the late 1800s and early 1900s. Vilda promises to bring an entertaining and educational look at a piece of American history by putting on a show that contains ingredients from the original 19th century shows, but with a new twist. We at the Times can't think of a better way to spend a beautiful fall Sunday afternoon.


  • Two Chances To See New School: Dorchester area residents will get a couple of opportunities to tour the new Dorchester School building and campus. The Dorchester School open house will be held 7-9 p.m. Monday (Oct. 13). This weekend, the Dorchester Booster Club will host a "Sundae on Sunday" ice cream social this Sunday (Oct. 12) at 3 p.m. at the school. All area residents are invited to check out the new 33,500 square foot facility, which features new elementary and high school classrooms, a multi-purpose room/new gym with stage, library, restrooms, locker space and administrative offices.


  • Automatic Gas Meters Go Into Effect Tomorrow: Black Hills Energy customers in 25 southeastern Nebraska communities -- including Dorchester -- will get their natural gas meters read automatically, via radio signal, starting tomorrow (Oct. 10). About 13,000 residential and commercial natural gas meters have either been upgraded or replaced as part of a $1.8 million upgrade which began in April. Don Nordell, Nebraska business operations director for Black Hills Energy, said estimated meter readings are now eliminated and it’s more convenient for customers because "company meter readers will no longer have to access a customer’s property to manually record natural gas usage each month." Customers who have questions can call Black Hills Energy toll free at (888) 890-5554.

  • Dorchester Connection In Latest Safe Haven Drop-Off: Unfortunately, there's a Dorchester connection to the latest case in which a child was left at a hospital under Nebraska's new safe haven law. According to the Lincoln Journal Star, a 51-year-old grandmother left her 12-year-old grandson at Lincoln's Bryan LGH Medical Center West late Sunday night. The boy had lived with his grandmother, who was his legal guardian and said she had "done everything in her power to provide for him, get him to church and school and his youth football games." The boy's mother recently moved to Dorchester, according the the article. The boy, who had been acting violently and showing signs of mental disturbance, is the 16th child left at a hospital under the safe haven law since Sept. 13. "About 6,600 children are currently state wards in Nebraska," reported the Journal Star. "The 12-year-old from Lincoln will likely be one soon."


  • Dorchester -- Home Of The Armadillos?: Last month, we received an e-mail from a reader who asked us to look into an armadillo spotting in the Dorchester area. Frankly, we didn't take the request seriously, especially considering the recent Bigfoot hoax in Georgia. However, the Associated Press is reporting that "another armadillo has shown up in Nebraska" -- this time as roadkill in Lincoln. The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission says the leathery mammals have been spotted across the state for about a decade, but are still rare. Armadillos are common in the South, where they're a nuisance because of burrowing. The animals don't hibernate, so their survival depends on the severity of winter. One zoologist says Nebraska's recent winters have been mild enough that armadillos have established small breeding populations in the state.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Contested Local Races Await Voters On Nov. 4

Election Day is less than 30 days away. Residents of Dorchester and its school district face some tough choices on Nov. 4, including deciding who will represent them on the village and school boards.

According to Nebraska Secretary of State John Gale, registered voters can vote early at county election offices or by mail. Also, people should update their voter registration if they have moved. The last day to register in-person at county offices is Oct. 24. Registered voters can make requests until 4 p.m. Oct. 29 for early-voting ballots to be mailed. For more information on registration and early voting, contact the Secretary of State's office at (402) 471-2555 or your local county election office.

Here in Dorchester, local races are dominating much of the current political talk -- primarily the races for school board and village board.

THE RACE FOR SCHOOL BOARD

Three seats are open on the Dorchester Board of Education. The primary election last spring eliminated one school board candidate, while allowing three others to emerge as popular choices among the voters.

The results of the May vote were as follows:

  • Kahle (incumbent) -- 170 votes;
  • Zoubek -- 131 votes;
  • Boller (incumbent) -- 120 votes;
  • Wells -- 92 votes;
  • Burkey -- 79 votes;
  • Jacobson -- 66 votes; and
  • Hoffman -- 32 votes.
All the school board candidates listed above, except Mikki Hoffman, will appear on the Nov. 4 ballot. The top three vote recipients will go on to serve four-year terms.

When asked last spring which single issue was most important when voting for school board members, a Times' poll found that nearly half (48 percent) of respondents said student performance. Other key issues cited by readers were teacher/staff evaluation (16 percent); cooperation with the village government (15 percent); and new spending (14 percent).


THE RACE FOR VILLAGE BOARD

Another key local contest is the race for Dorchester Village Board, in which five residents are running for two open seats.

The condition of Dorchester's streets seems to be the issue atop the minds of most voters. A June poll conducted by the Times showed that 62 percent of readers said town streets should get immediate attention by the village board. Other top concerns were unkempt yards/homes (12 percent) and the water/sewer system (11 percent).

Unlike the school board candidates, village board candidates did not appear on the primary election ballot. The five village board candidates appearing on the Nov. 4 ballot are:
  • Todd Jensen;
  • Jeff Jacobson;
  • Brandon Koll;
  • Dean Pracheil (incumbent); and
  • Lyle Weber.
WHAT'S ON YOUR MIND?

Which candidates will get your vote and why? What issues will drive your voting decisions? And how can candidates win your vote in the weeks and days leading up to the election.

We look forward to your comments.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Flashback: Saline Named Among Top 75 Counties To Live

Earlier this year, Progressive Farmer magazine published its fourth annual "Best Places to Live in Rural America" report -- and named Saline County as one of its top 75 counties. When the Times looks back at our top 10 stories of the year, you can bet this one will make the cut.

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 No. 10, Adams County was No. 12, and Wayne County was No. 18. Saline County was ranked No. 71.

Since the Times was the only local media to cite the news of Saline county's ranking in this unique poll, we thought it was worth mentioning once again.

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.

Progressive Farmer's complete list of top 100 Midwest Counties can be viewed here. (This story first ran in Feb. 2008. Photos are copyrighted Oct. 2008 by the Times.)

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Ten-Day Challenge: Nerud Field Improvement Project

The Dorchester Times is issuing another urgent 10-day challenge to readers and others with ties to our town.

We are urging Dorchester residents, parents, alumni, students, former residents and other friends of the community to save one dollar a day for the next 10 days and make a $10 contribution to the Nerud Field Project by Oct. 15. (Of course, for those who wish to contribute a larger amount may do so, knowing project volunteers will put those funds to good use.)

The Nerud Field Project Committee announced last week that their work on the new ball field concession stand and restrooms will begin after the last home football game Oct. 17. The volunteers of the project committee will construct the 24’ by 40’ building, which will include a covered dining area with picnic tables. The project will help modernize both the football and baseball/softball venues.

Just a small donation will help cover the material cost of the facility and -- at the same time -- send a strong message to the volunteers of the Nerud Field Project Committee that their efforts to improve our community are appreciated. In addition, your financial donation will serve as a way to honor the late Miles Nerud, who passed away one year ago this month. Nerud brought organized little league baseball to Dorchester in the 1950s and served as one of the founding fathers of the Seward-Fillmore-Saline (SFS) League. Anyone who knew Miles knows how proud he would be of the new facility that will modernize the field named in his honor.

Before Wednesday, Oct. 15, we hope you will take a moment to send your $10 (or more) contribution to:

NERUD FIELD PROJECT
P.O. Box 67
Dorchester NE 68343

Thursday, October 2, 2008

NEWS BRIEFS: Nerud Field Project To Begin After Oct. 17

  • Nerud Field Project Needs Volunteers, Donations: According to Lyle Weber with the Nerud Field Project Committee, work on the new ball field concession stand and restrooms will begin after the last home football game on Oct. 17. Residents who would like to lend their time or resources to help with the project should contact Bill Velder, project coordinator, at (402) 641-0685. Readers may send donations to the NERUD FIELD PROJECT, P.O. Box 67, Dorchester NE 68343. As reported earlier, the facility will be a 24’ by 40’ building that will include new restrooms and a covered eating area with picnic tables. It is a joint venture between the school and village.

  • Booster Club Hosting 'Sundae On Sunday' Gathering Oct. 12: In addition to the Dorchester School open house set for the evening of Monday, Oct. 13, the Dorchester Booster Club will host a "Sundae on Sunday" social gathering on Oct. 12. The event will begin at 3 p.m. at the school. All area residents are invited.
  • Emergency Response Team Training Oct. 17-19: Residents of Saline County will be able to receive Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training for free this month. Through CERT, citizens can learn about disaster preparedness and receive training in basic disaster response skills such as fire safety, light search and rescue, and disaster medical operations. The CERT training will be conducted Oct. 17-19 at Saline Center, at the following times: 6:30-9:30 p.m. on Oct. 17; 9 a.m.- 5 p.m. on Oct. 18; 9 a.m.-3 p.m. on Oct. 19. Meals will be provided. Individuals who complete the course will also be provided a responders bag with necessary supplies and equipment. Please contact Public Health Solutions District Health Department at 888-310-0565, or kplouzek@phsneb.org to register.
  • Kahle, Bruha Among State Football Leaders: According to the Lincoln Journal Star, two DHS football players are among the state's best, regardless of school class size. Junior Adam Kahle is listed in the state's top ten list of defensive players, with 59 total tackles and three fumble recoveries so far in the 2008 season. Senior Brandon Bruha leads all other punters in the state, averaging a whopping 41.3 yards per punt. We tip our 'Horns hat to these DHS gridiron greats.