Monday, December 8, 2014

Where Are We Now? Ideas To Improve Dorchester Submitted Six Years Ago

Six years ago this month, the former editor of the Dorchester Times sent requests to several area readers, asking for their ideas and input on how local residents could most effectively help grow the area economy and improve Dorchester over the long-term. 

The Times received a variety of answers. Today, half-a-dozen years later, we revisit some of those ideas -- to see which have been acted upon, and which have been ignored or forgotten.

Some of the ideas sent to us included:
  • Buying "gift certificates from Dorchester Grocery Store, Donna's Hair Creations, Tysers Repair, West Side Saloon," and other Dorchester area businesses and giving them as Christmas presents to family and friends. One reader wrote: "I find just telling friends that I buy my groceries in town is effective (to get more people to shop locally), although sometimes shocking to them!"
  • Giving "Christmas gifts made locally."
  • Visiting "Hedgehog and Hubbies Antique Shop on the west edge of town, and the Saline County Historical society." Another reader noted the antique shop has "a number of Dorchester and DHS vintage items, and considers consignments from local residents, on a limited basis." And although the Museum is not open during the winter, they will open by appointment. "This is a real plum for Dorchester, and would benefit the local economy as visitors eat and shop in town."
  • "Help a local farmer. Buy a corn burning stove!"
Some geared their comments toward the importance of contributing to area philanthropies and charitable groups, or volunteering to help with local projects and organizations. "Think about sending monthly donation to the Dorchester Methodist Church whether or not you're a member," wrote a reader.

Other comments focused on the long-term direction of the community. Several readers directed their comments to the appearance of Main Street and the downtown business area. We received several ideas for new business that might do well in our community. New business ideas included:
  • A laundromat -- to "provide a service, create several jobs, and fill one of the vacant buildings that are currently a part of the downtown area."
  • A convenience store along Highway 33 or Highway 6. One reader suggested such a business be run jointly by the Farmers Cooperative and Dorchester Grocery. (The writer suggested that the convenience store be staffed "by DHS business students, who could earn credit for management of personnel and inventory.")
  • A year-round "indoor farmers market" that would "sell locally-grown food, locally-produced items" as well as serve items unique to the Dorchester area -- "things you can't buy in Wal-Mart or the big box stores."
There were also several suggestions on how Dorchester residents could contribute toward improving the quality of life of their community. Some of the ideas included:
  • Encouraging citizens and school organizations "such as FBLA or the Student Council" to help beautify the downtown area "by putting up some flower boxes" with "some low maintenance plants in them," as well as maintaining trash containers and "doing some light painting on some of the downtown buildings." The writer noted that "students may take more pride and ownership of the community."
  • Urging the Dorchester Village Board to "hold a town hall meeting on issues of concern" and to "participate in the Nebraska Community Improvement Program." (We remember that in the 1970s, Dorchester participated in the NCIP. Our town was a runner-up in 1977 for the state's NCIP award and won top honors in 1978 and 1981, as well as an honorable mention in 1979. Back then, several streets were paved, and other community projects improved the town's appearance.)
  • Conducting a "thorough review of Dorchester's infrastructure" to check the condition of "downtown buildings, water and sewer system, sidewalks and streets."
  • Working with NPPD's economic development team to "create a Web site for our town."
Finally, there were some "big picture" ideas thrown our way -- ideas to address Dorchester's long-term viability and community spirit.

One of the readers, a teacher at Dorchester School, suggested that more former Dorchester students might consider coming back and settling in their hometown if the community gathered resources and offered "some type of a low interest loan ... to help pay off college debts or starting a new business." 

Another reader wrote that Dorchester "needs to get more young people, under 40," to get involved and hold key leadership positions.


  1. Those are all very good ideas. But speaking as one who returned and left again, the "creative class" does not want to return unless Nebraska becomes more hospitable to gays and lesbians.

    1. Six years on, soooooooooooooooo tired about hearing of this issue.

  2. Does anyone think about these ideas before they come out of there mouths? These type of businesses will never make it in a small town like Dorchester. Maybe if you get more hispanics that don't own there own washers and dryers. Maybe if there is more traffic on hwy 33 & hwy 6.

  3. As one who left Nebraska and came back again, the Good Life's lack of the vocal and offensive gay activists is exactly why I did return. Thanks for the good laugh. You always have California (Oh wait ... Prop. 8 just proved they don't want the gay activists, either.)

  4. Thank you 90s have made my point.

  5. Until the great state of Nebraska lowers it's taxes, lowers it's cost of living, and increases it's living wage, I don't think you will see much interest in people moving back to Nebraska, much less the small towns of Nebraska. I would love to move back to Big D. Unfortunatley the cut in pay, and incerase in cost of living quickly brings me back to earth. The state of Nebraska needs to make some major changes before it starts to see it's children considering moving back.

  6. Hang on, kids. The economic crash is going to change everything.

    I have reports coming from high officials of professionals on the east coast calling around Nebraska looking for work because jobs, especially those in the service sector, are disappearing.

    Reality is about to hit us squarely right between the eyes. The last thing you'll care about is "orientation" issues. We're talking survival here. The midwest is about as good as it gets when it comes to the basics of life.

    Bottom line, be grateful for where you live Dorchester residents.

  7. I don't think that it is all Nebraska that has to change. I think it is the way that people in Dorchester think. I have seen it time and time again in Dorchester. If you do not have a "big name" in that town you are worst then something that a dog leaves behind. When are the people in this town going to stop being such asses to everyone else. I have even seen people with "big names" from Dorchester try to push people around in Crete. A very good example is every sunday when these certain people go to church and park in the Burger King parking lot leaving no parking for any of there customers. When you try to say something to then they get all pissy with you and do it again the next week.

  8. With tongue firmly in cheek, I ask "Is this the change Nebraska and Dorchester needs?"...

    'Day without a gay' protest fizzles

    San Francisco Chronicle: Activists had billed Wednesday as "a day without a gay," when gays and lesbians across the country would call in sick, boycott shopping and show the impact of their absence from everyday life.

    Designed to be a protest against the Nov. 4 passage of Proposition 8, which bans same-sex marriage, the day's events drew only scattered support in the Bay Area, the heart of the gay rights movement, and also criticism.

  9. San Fran Sicko ...............................

  10. Very interesting discussion taking place on the blog. This is what I am observing on the East Coast: Those areas that are near a government center are doing well because government continues to chug along no matter the economic conditions. Before I hear any booing, remember Nebraska is very dependent upon government due to the farm subsidy program. Second, Nebraska's most famous author, Willa Cather, was gay. It's interesting to ponder what might have been had she remained in Nebraska.

  11. I know this isn't the place to ask this question, but I don't know who to direct it to. There was a letter posted requesting information about a Janda (I don't remember the first name). I recently read the name of Paul Janda in a local publication and am wondering if this is the Janda that the writer was inquiring about.

  12. Interesting how little these comments have to do with the topic of the story.

    Just my two cents.

  13. Congratulations to the Dorchester Times for publishing comments that are worthy of discussion and might not always appear on a small town blog.

  14. One thing that I think would help Dorchester in the immediate future would be the dissemination of village board and school board minutes in a more timely fashion.

    This is not an attack on either board, just a reminder that just because citizen's may not attend the public meetings, does not mean that they are indifferent to the topics of the meeting.

    If more were educated in the actual happenings of the meetings and what is going within them, than we may not have some of the constant bickering that takes place (particularly on this blog).

    Many communities publish their minutes on their community website, but since Dorchester does not have an official site, the Dorchester Times would probably publish these minutes, if they were sent to them.

    (Before someone says anything about the publishing in the Crete News, just remember that not everyone subscribes to that rag.)

  15. 'Anonymous' (Dec. 15, 3:09 p.m.):

    Indeed, the Times would gladly publish the minutes verbatim from both school and village board meetings.

    To date, neither board has sent us their minutes -- and quite honestly, we have not asked them to.

    For board members (or staff) reading this comment, please consider this your invitation to send us your monthly minutes.

    Residents who would like to see the minutes published on this Web site should ask a board member to consider raising the issue at their next meeting.

    Thank you for the suggestion.

  16. Just a few observations:

    Leadership is most effective if it's found most often in action, not words. Talks cheap and this is a blog.

    Homosexuality is opposed to natural law. May God bless, keep and help them. But their kind of non-creation and destructive behavior will help a nation destruct not construct.

    As for the cost of living in Nebraska. Are you kidding!! In many ways Nebraska is one of the least expensive places to live. Besides the cost of living is relative. In most places the cost of housing will make up for some of the other inflated costs. Folks living on the upper great plains are some of the poorest folks in the country, so the cost of living can't be that high, relatively speaking.

    Steve Douglas your comments are cowardly, ignorant, and speak to your lack of self confidence. If the Burger King issue was so bad then they could put up a sign and I am sure the big names would not park there. And because they are "big people", they would still patronize BK. The fact that you would comment in an article designed for leadership in the manner that you have, shows the challenge that leaders have to lead folks such as you. If you want to contribute to Dorchester, I suggest you get out of the way and develope some valuable opinions. Village Dweller, these are the comments that erode the integrity of the blog. Do they have a place? So an attempt to build ideas for the town, once again turns into mud-slinging. I know it's a blog. But if the intent is for productive discussion, then perhaps it isn't best to publish rubbish.

    And let's quit throwing farm subsidies around like it's the golden calf of the econonmy. Frankly, they are the price the government has to pay to control the farming industry. We're all subsidized in some manner if you stop and think about it. Some are just upset that the government might be giving a bigger check to the next guy.

    If you want board minutes, get off your duff and buy a paper. If your goal is to gather information to pit the city and school against each other the least you could do is pay for a paper. Let's not confuse a blog for a real publication.

    Jekyll Hide

  17. A good friend of this Web site has expressed his concern about the use of the term "verbatim" in our invitation above.

    So let us restate our offer.

    We at the Times will publish the minutes as they would appear in The Crete News public notices -- free of charge, of course.

    In this age of the Internet, there is no reason for public entities to pay to print public notices.

    Moreover, we are willing to wager that more Dorchester area residents will see the minutes if they appear on the Times.

    Our offer still stands.

  18. My goal was never "to gather information to pit the city and school against each other".

    My primary goal was to suggest an easily accessible information source in order to educate the general populace so that we may be better informed to make future community-based decisions.

    While blogs may not be considered "real" publications by some, blogs do offer an opportunity for discussion of community politics and proceedings. These discussions are generally more useful if more information is known. Certain readers can offer different perspectives and expertises that could be of assistance, which can only be shared through this type of community forum.

    Jekyll added, "Leadership is most effective if it's found most often in action, not words." I for one hope that this action is based on timely, accurate information.

    With the 3500 page views and 1600 visits this week vs. the 3,310 weekly circulation of the Crete News, the Dorchester Times could provide a larger market for educating future leaders of Dorchester.

  19. Under Nebraska law, are public notices required to be printed in a "hard copy" print publication?

    Not everyone, especially senior citizens, has computer access or would think to look on a blog. I think publishing minutes on the blog AND the newspaper is a good idea.

  20. Minutes must be kept of all meetings, showing the time, place, members present and absent,
    and a summary of all matters discussed. Any action taken should be recorded by roll call vote,
    indicating how each member voted, or if absent or not voting. The vote to elect leadership within
    the public body may be taken by secret ballot, but total number of votes for each candidate must be
    recorded in the minutes. The minutes of all meetings and evidence or documentation received or disclosed during open session is considered public records, open to public inspection. Minutes must
    be available within 10 working days or prior to the next convened meeting, whichever occurs first.

    Nothing in Nebraska law says the minutes must be printed in hard copy in the newspaper. They could also be posted at the Post Office or at Village Hall.

  21. Sorry Outhouse:

    NE 19-1102 City or village clerk; proceedings of council; publication; contents. It shall be the duty of each village or city clerk in every village or city having a population of not more than one hundred thousand to prepare and publish the official proceedings of the village or city board, council, or commission within thirty days after any meeting of the board, council, or commission. The publication shall be in a newspaper of general circulation in the village or city, shall set forth a statement of the proceedings of the meeting, and shall also include the amount of each claim allowed, the purpose of the claim, and the name of the claimant, except that the aggregate amount of all payroll claims may be included as one item. Between July 15 and August 15 of each year, the employee job titles and the current annual, monthly, or hourly salaries corresponding to such job titles shall be published. Each job title published shall be descriptive and indicative of the duties and functions of the position. The charge for the publication shall not exceed the rates provided for in section 23-122.

  22. Very interesting. That isn't under the open meeting law. The Attorney General's office says that is a 1919 law. I wasn't around back then but my guess is the Internet wasn't an available option. Sounds like an outdated statute that is an unfunded mandate by the state.

    Time to call your state senator and get that section of the code amanded or struck.

  23. I haven't subscribed to the Crete News for more than 10 years so I don't see the minutes.

    They would be better off posting the minutes at the grocery store or bank. More people would see them that way.


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