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!"
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."
- 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."
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.