Monday, December 5, 2016

EDITORIAL: Talk Is Cheap; It's Time To Grow Dorchester

(Editor's Note: This editorial was published by the Times in December 2008.  To our knowledge, nothing has changed since.  We think this idea is worth revisiting.)

A few years ago, the Norfolk Daily News reported that four eastern Nebraska school districts -- Clarkson, Howells, Dodge and Leigh -- were contemplating a merger despite their proud histories and longtime rivalries. "At one time, it would have been difficult to consider such a proposal," according to the Daily News story. "Now in rural Nebraska, it happens all the time."

Dr. Jerry Ehlers is a retired school superintendent who conducts studies for school districts looking at merging. He has completed about 25 such studies. "Small-town, rural Nebraska is losing kids," Ehlers told the Daily News. "If there aren't jobs for parents of childbearing age, there won't be kids. Each school in small-town Nebraska faces this."

Many in Dorchester, including the staff of this Web site, have contemplated how to improve the business sector of our community. Perhaps we should devote equal time to consideration of how to grow our population.

In our first year of publishing the Dorchester Times, we suggested it was time for a "Move Back To Dorchester" campaign, to reach out to the sons and daughters who have moved away to another city or state and now have thoughts of returning to our community and the surrounding area.  It's still a good idea, but such a project would not sufficiently boost Dorchester's numbers.

While our town has escaped school consolidation for the immediate future, it is time to assemble a comprehensive plan to attract new residents and retain current ones -- including those attending classes at Dorchester Public School. To our knowledge, such a project has never been undertaken by Dorchester leaders.

Perhaps now is the time for a "Vision 2020" plan that sets a goal of doubling Dorchester's population in the next three years. It is something the new village board and other community leaders should consider.

What needs to be included in such a "Vision 2020" plan? For starters:
  • How do we keep our youth in Dorchester after high school graduation?
  • How do we convince folks to build here, or improve existing homes?
  • How do we fill vacant houses, or convince homeowners of vacant houses to sell or rent?
  • How do we encourage young families to move to Dorchester?
  • How do we keep our retirees here?
  • How do we get the entire community involved in solving these issues?
Dorchester is geographically blessed. It's a relatively short drive to Lincoln, Crete, Seward and other employment hubs. Our area is fortunate to have ample access to major roadways that serve as conduits for both labor and commerce.  We also have reasonably good sized employers in town, with both the Farmers Cooperative and the K-12 school. 

We offer plentiful land; almost non-existent crime rates; quiet, peaceful surroundings; abundant, clean water; an engaged community; reasonable electric rates; low-cost living; and high-quality and safe schools.  We have health care services and treatment within a 10-minute drive.  

We should capitalize on these traits by advertising ourselves to those facing out-of-control taxes, outrageous costs of living, and radical, unpredictable social upheaval in places like California, Colorado, and both coasts.

Dorchester would be wise to start planning for the future, starting today.  We have too much potential to waste it away.


  1. I don't always agree with your editorials but you are right on about this.

  2. Perhaps it is time to start an investment club, with the goal of using the funds to help new businesses start. Several communities are doing this. Broken Bow has had one since the early 80's when that recession hit. Central City's is very successful for both potential business owners and the investors. Might be something the village board could look into.

  3. I’m glad to see that you are making use of USDA’s Economic Research Service. (ERS) Many people are unaware of its existence. Another good source of information is the National Agricultural Library. Here’s the link:

  4. Another thing to remember if you are relocating to Dorchester: It's important to look at the overall job market. If you move across the country and get laid off six months later, consider chances you'll find a similar job -- or any job -- quickly.

  5. Vested, I don't know where you are from but unemployment in Nebraska is still around 3%.

    Inflation is soaring and has been for 20+ years despite what the Feds say. It's not in goods or commodities, it's in labor wages, especially the service sector and white collar workers (esp. government). That's being driven by those on the coasts.

    Don't think this recession is going to hit the service sector workers on the coast hardest? Just you wait.

  6. Vested is located west of Dorchester. (Not too far west.)Your post is somewhat difficult to follow, but I hope you are enjoying AZ.

  7. This is a very good editorial.

  8. It would be nice to see more than two boys per class out for athletics.

  9. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


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