Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Times: They Are A-Changin'

Two-and-a-half years after publishing our first post, the Dorchester Times is making a change. Beginning immediately, the Web site will no longer feature stories or editorials written by our staff.

When the Dorchester Times first went online in April 2007, we envisioned a Web site that would serve as a community bulletin board and discussion forum, with content composed and submitted by town residents. We have enjoyed writing stories and keeping residents abreast on the issues affecting our town. But now the Times is turning over the reporting duties to you -- the residents of the Dorchester area. The Times is a communications tool that is there for you to use, if you wish.

As a service to our community, we will still maintain the site and update its contents daily. However, beginning today, the only stories and commentary on the Times will be those submitted to us by Dorchester area residents and natives of the community -- or those based on news releases sent to our publication.

Readers are invited to send us notices of future events; summaries of gatherings or meetings; reviews of school activities or sporting events; and anything else related to Dorchester or its residents. Content will be reviewed and edited, for content and clarity, by our staff.

We ask that all material submitted to us ( include basic information answering: Who? What? Where? And when?

We will continue feature Web links to Dorchester-related stories appearing in the news media. Also, we will still post the "Open Forum" feature that allows residents to comment on topics of their choosing. Letters-to-the-editors, births, obituaries and other items for the left-hand column are also still welcome to keep readers informed.

We thank our readers for their continued loyalty to our site and, more importantly, our community. We also welcome your ideas on how to improve the Dorchester Times and the service it provides area residents and natives.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The 20 Keys To Community Survival

This article originally appeared in the Times on Jan. 9, 2009.

In a recent editorial, we mentioned Dorchester has been able to escape school consolidation and loss of population -- both of which are crippling many small communities, including a few in our immediate area. But one look at Main Street reminds us that our community is not immune to the struggles facing Small Town America.

As we editorialized last year, now is the time for a "Vision 2015" plan that establishes some goals for Dorchester to improve the already-good quality of life we enjoy.

The most recent issue of VISIONS magazine, published by the non-profit Heartland Center for Leadership Development, lists 20 "clues to community survival" that were compiled following a case study of small towns that thrived even in the midst of the 1980s farm crisis.
We encourage of area resident to read the follow and recall them often:


1.) Evidence of Community Pride. ("Successful communities are often showplaces of care, attention, history and heritage," the study says.)

2.) Emphasis on Quality in Business & Community Life.

3.) Willingness to Invest in the Future. ("In addition to the brick-and-mortar investments, all decisions are made with an outlook on the future.")

4.) Participatory Approach to Community Decision Making. ("Even the most powerful opinion leaders seem to work toward building consensus.")

5.) Cooperative Community Spirit.

6.) Realistic Appraisal of Future Opportunities. ("Successful communities have learned how to build on strengths and minimize weaknesses.")

7.) Awareness of Competitive Positioning. ("Local loyalty is emphasized in successful small towns, but thriving communities know who their local competitors are and position themselves accordingly.")

8.) Active Economic Development Program. ("There is an organized, public/private approach to economic development.")

9.) Knowledge of the Physical Environment. ("Relative location and available natural resources underscore decision-making.")

10.) Deliberate Transition of Power to a Younger Generation of Leaders. ("People under 40 regularly hold key positions in civic and business affairs in strong communities.")

11.) Celebration of Diversity in Leadership. ("Women, young people, and newcomers are elected officials, business leaders, and entrepreneurial developers.")

12.) Strong Belief in and Support for Education.

13.) Problem-Solving Approach to Providing Health Care and Housing Older Residents.

14.) Strong Multi-Generational Family Orientation. ("The definition of family is broad, and activities include younger as well as older generations.")

15.) Strong Presence of Traditional Institutions that are Integral to Community Life. ("Churches, schools and service clubs are strong influences on community development and the social network.")

16.) Sound and Well-Maintained Infrastructure. ("Leaders work to maintain streets, Main Street buildings, water systems and sewage facilities.")

17.) Careful Use of Fiscal Resources.

18.) Sophisticated Use of Technology Resources.

19.) Willingness to Seek Help from the Outside. ("People seek outside help for community needs, and many compete for government grants and contracts for projects and services.")

20.) Conviction That, in the Long Run, You Must Do It Yourself. ("Thriving rural communities believe their destiny is in their own hands. Making their communities good places is a pro-active assignment, and they are willing to accept it.")

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Volleyball Team Takes 4th At Shickley

The DHS volleyball team is finishing a long string of road contests as they eye their first home game since the Sept. 3 season opener.

Dorchester fell at Osceola last night (Sept. 22) in three matches, 25-11, 25-15, 25-21.

The Lady Longhorns did, however, take fourth-place at last weekend's Shickley Invitational. In the day's first pairing, DHS was knocked off by the host team, 18-25, 25-19, 25-9. DHS then bounced back with a win over Heartland Lutheran (25-15, 25-14) before losing to Hampton in the consolation match by tallies of 25-20 and 25-22. In the consolation game, Karmen Lawver had 14 kills and Charity Springer boasted 26 set assists and two ace serves for Dorchester.

Last Thursday, DHS fell to next-door rival Friend in a well-played match. The Bulldogs won with match counts of 25-19, 25-21, 25-17.

Tomorrow night (Sept. 24), DHS will travel to Polk to meet High Plains and Shelby in a triangular before returning home next Tuesday to host Sterling. The Longhorns will host another triangular at the DHS gymnasium on Oct. 1.

See the Crete News' coverage of the action at Friend and Shickley as written by veteran reporter B.J. Fictum.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Football Team Gets First Win; Two DHS Players Named Area Leaders

After snagging its first victory of the season, the Dorchester football team is taking advantage of the early fall weather and preparing for another tough game this week on the road at Pawnee City.

The Longhorns (1-2) cruised to a victory last Friday in their first home game. DHS stampeded McCool Junction, 47-8, in a contest that feature the Longhorns' talent at running the ball. The Pawnee City game will present a tougher challenge, but Times sports reporter, "CJ", notes that the game should be a DHS win if all the Longhorns play up to their potential. Pawnee City is also 1-2 on the season and tied with DHS in the Class D1, District 2 standings.

Meanwhile, the Lincoln Journal Star reports that two DHS football players are among the area leaders in tackles and fumble recoveries, regardless of school size. Junior Russ Barak in No. 10 in tackles with 30 total on the young season. Senior Spencer Kotas is the area's top player in fumble recoveries with three so far this year.

DHS' homecoming game will take place the first Friday of October, Oct. 2, at Nerud Field as the Longhorns do battle with a confident Meridian team. (*UPDATE*: See the Crete News' coverage of the DHS-McCool game as reported by B.J. Fictum.)

Friday, September 18, 2009

Annual Church Auction This Sunday, Sept. 20

One of Dorchester's most noted events takes place this weekend as the Dorchester United Methodist Church’s 22nd Annual Community Auction will be held Sunday, Sept. 20.

All area residents are invited to join the fun, which will be held on the church grounds at the corner of Lincoln Ave. and 6th St.

Sunday's activities begin with a beef and pork barbecue from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Salads and desserts will also be available. Meals tickets are $7 per individual, $14 per couple, and $20 per family.

The auction begins at 1 p.m. There will be numerous auction items that will be of special interest. A full list of auction items can be found at any of Dorchester's local businesses. Those who would like to place a bid but are unable to attend may still take part in this important fundraiser by calling Vicky Parks (402-946-4691) or Carol Olson (402-946-3531).

Some more highlights planned for this Sunday:
  • Chain saw artist Nick Jensen from Garland will again be demonstrating his carving skills, with the items he carves then made available for auction. Come watch "Papa Bear" Jensen create his unique wood sculptures, which make great rustic yard art or home decor.
  • Kids' Cake Auction: Community youth will be bringing cakes and other sweet treats that to be auctioned off.
  • Farmers Market: Fresh produce from local gardens will be offered at a free will offering.
  • Book Exchange: Bring a book to exchange for a new read or purchase any available.

For those who would like to make cash donations to the church, please contact Parks or Olson at the phone numbers above. We hope all Times' readers will enjoy the first weekend of fall by supporting the church and the good work of its members.

Readers Share More Images

Our readers continue to send us their photos. A couple of months ago, the Times offered space on our Web site to those who want to share pictures or videos with fellow Times readers. Below are the latest entries.

Three of the images are of the Saline County sky as captured by Nicole Martin. (Click on the photos for a better view.) Nicole says two of the photos were taken immediately following a storm, while the other shows yet another spectacular Nebraska sunset. The photo at the lower right was sent by Terry Gautreaux and is entitled "Enter Longhorn." Terry writes: "If Bert or Ben want to really attract customers, they need to create a store front like this one south of Tucson, Arizona."

Keep those great shots coming. Send your images to and include a brief description.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Longhorns Prepare For Weekend Contests

Both Dorchester football and volleyball teams are busy preparing for the upcoming weekend contests.

After suffering a pair of defeats last week, the Lady Longhorns (1-3) are looking to bounce back tomorrow, Sept. 17, in their battle with next door neighbor and rival Friend. The Lady Bulldogs, a Class C2 team, are 4-7 so far on the season. Tomorrow's game will be at Friend.

The Lady Longhorns will then travel to Shickley on Saturday, Sept. 19, where DHS will be one of five teams participating in the Shickley Invitational. DHS will join Silver Lake, Hampton, Bruning-Davenport, Heartland Lutheran and Shickley at the annual Shickley Invitational. Dorchester faces Shickley at 10 a.m., then plays Heartland Lutheran. The consolation matches are set for approximately 1:30 p.m. The championship match will follow the third-place match.

Meanwhile, the Longhorn football team (0-2) is coming off their loss at Sterling last week -- a contest that was called early due to lightning. DHS is ready for its first home game of the season, which will pit DHS against McCool this Friday, Sept. 18. The Mustangs suffered a 55-0 loss to Meridian last week and are 0-2 on the year.

Longhorn fans are strongly encouraged to attend Friday's game at the newly renovated Nerud Field. Improvements include the new concession stand and restrooms -- which are the result of volunteer labor and community donations -- along a new entry gate and fence surrounding "The Corral." We think it is one of the best entrances in Nebraska high school football.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

DVFD Plans Sept. 26 Hog Roast, Open House

Members of the Dorchester Volunteer Fire & Rescue Department plan an upcoming hog roast and open house for area residents. The general public is invited and encouraged to attend.

The event will be held 5 p.m. on Sat., Sept. 26. at the Dorchester Fire Hall. The event will continue into the evening as long as there are visitors present.

We hope all Dorchester-area residents will support the DVFD and take time to say thank you to those who volunteer their time and resources to keep us safe.

NEWS BRIEFS: Median Cost Of Dorchester Home Sees Slight Bump

  • Median Cost Of Dorchester Home Sees Slight Increase Over Decade: The cost of housing in Dorchester has risen very slightly according to an online query conducted by the Times. According to, the 2009 median listing price of a Dorchester home is $69,900. That compares to the 2000 Dorchester median price of about $63,000, as noted by other online reports. reports that the current average listing price for a Dorchester home is $83,266. (Average price can be skewed when the distribution has extreme values on either end.) A home for sale in Dorchester sits on the market for an average of 162 days.

  • Crete Budget Shortfall Gets Local Media Attention: A Sept. 9 story in the Lincoln Journal Star highlights the city budget woes of our next door neighbor Crete. The City of Crete faces a $300,000 shortfall. The best two options seem to be raising property taxes by $165 per $100,000 or laying off two of Crete's 11 uniformed police officers. Crete has more reported crimes than 12 other cities its size in the state and the second-most crimes per 1,000 population in that same grouping. Crete Police Chief Steve Hensel said population growth has contributed to gang activity in Crete, but he does not attribute its crime rate to its proximity to the Farmland Foods plant or to the ethnic mix at the plant. "The fact that demographics have changed a bit doesn't necessarily coincide with an increase in crime," Hensel said. Several members of the Times staff chuckled at that politically correct statement by Chief Hensel, who otherwise tends to keep his head out of the sand. "I guess this means we should be on the look out for rampant Czech and German gang activity," said one Times staff member who works in Crete, with her tongue firmly in cheek.

  • Region Named 'Primary Drug Market' By Government: According to a recent report released by the National Drug Intelligence Center and published by the U.S. Dept. of Justice, the Omaha area and nearby counties are considered a primary drug market and a regional distribution center for illicit drugs -- cocaine, methamphetamine, and marijuana. According to the government report, Mexican criminal groups are the principal transporters and wholesale distributors of most illicit drugs to the Omaha metropolitan area. The report states, "In addition, Mexican drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) maintain connections throughout many smaller Nebraska towns (as far away as Lexington) ... where large numbers of Mexican nationals have sought employment in meatpacking and poultry processing plants. Mexican DTOs use their connections in these cities to smuggle illicit drugs into the Omaha metropolitan area." We believe area residents should be aware of this report, which has been ignored or gone unnoticed by local media.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

DHS Preparing For Sterling After Loss To No. 4 Shelby

Following last Friday night's 36-12 loss to Class D1's No. 4 Shelby, the Longhorns are busy regrouping and preparing for another road game this week against one of Class D2's top teams.

Dorchester has the second-most difficult schedule in Class D1, according to the Lincoln Journal Star.

Dorchester, despite their youth, held up well against a larger and more experienced Shelby team. After last Friday's game, it became obvious there are several bright spots on this year's DHS team. Our sports reporter (reader "CJ") noted the need for continued solid performances, particularly by sophomores QB Brandon Schwisow and receiver Michael Lee, along with senior leaders Adam Kahle and Spencer Kotas and hard-working Longhorns Russ Barak, Jeremy Inderlied and Kyle Palky.

DHS will take on the Sterling Jets this Friday, Sept. 11. The Jets are 0-1 following their 38-6 loss to Johnson-Brock, a contender in Class D1.

Despite their rough start, the Jets are listed as contenders this week in Class D2 by the Journal Star.

We hope DHS' loyal fans will make the road trip to Johnson County to support the Longhorns in this important early-season contest.

Friday, September 4, 2009

NEWS BRIEFS: DHS Volleyball Team Splits Season Opening Triangular

  • DHS Splits Dorchester Triangular: The Lady Longhorns are off to a 1-1 start after splitting games at Thursday's triangular at DHS. Dorchester beat Weeping Water in two straight sets, with scores of 25-20 and 25-7, only to fall to Palmyra later in the evening. Both opponents are larger schools and in Class C2.

  • Former DHS Athletes Playing For Area Colleges: Lucas Apfelbeck, a 2009 DHS graduate has made the roster for nearby Doane College as a defensive lineman. See Doane's football roster here. Also, 2007 DHS graduate Brandon Vyhnalek is again on Nebraska Wesleyan University's football squad. The 6'2", 240 lb. defensive lineman is a junior for the Prairie Wolves. To see the NWU roster, click here.

  • Legion Buffalo Feed Set For Sept. 19: The Dorchester American Legion Buffalo Feed is set for Sat., Sept. 19. Tickets are required and must be purchased in advance. Tickets can be obtained by calling Richard Kasl at (402) 946-7651.

REMINDER: Joe's Place Plans Street Dance, Open House Tonight

Dorchester's street dances are back. And so is Joe's Place, in case you haven't noticed.

This year, start the Labor Day weekend right by celebrating at Joe's Place Bar & Grill on Friday Sept. 4. This special event will feature a beer garden, prizes, giveaways and much more.

Be sure to get there early for the best seats in the house and to catch all the action. Check out the menu and try an item or two from the grill for dinner.

Then from 8 p.m. until midnight, be sure to catch Dorchester's first street dance in more than 15 years as the band "Mother Dudes" plays your favorite tunes. Bring your lawn chairs. Admission is free!

See you at Joe's Place Sept. 4. Come out and support Dorchester's Main Street businesses -- and have a good time doing it! For more details, call Joe's at (402) 946-2171.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

OPEN FORUM: September 2009

New month, new open forum for Times readers. Once again, we are providing an open forum for area residents who want to say something, report something, or ask a question -- on any issue. Any topic is fair game, although the Times' comment policy still applies (see the bottom of the left-hand column).

Earlier this year, Times readers voted overwhelmingly (75% to 25%) in opposition to our decision to limit remarks following stories.

The Dorchester Times' Web site averages about 235 hits a day, according to an independent tracking service. That means the Times is the perfect forum to air your thoughts, news tips, announcements, complaints and concerns -- on any issue.

So go ahead and sound off. We are listening. And so are hundreds of others.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

DHS Volleyball Team Previewed By Journal Star

The DHS fall sports season officially begins Thursday, Sept. 3, when the Lady Longhorns do battle with Palmyra and Weeping Water at the Dorchester Triangular at the DHS gymnasium. To set the stage, the Aug. 31 Lincoln Journal Star previewed some of the top Class D1 and D2 teams in the region.

The newspaper reports that the Lady Longhorns this season will be coached by longtime Dorchester teacher and coach Larry Burrows. DHS finished 2008 with an 11-13 record.

According to the Journal Star, the Lady Longhorns 2009 team will feature two returning starters -- senior setter Charity Springer and senior middle blocker Karmen Lawver -- and five other returning letter winners who "are a adjusting to a new system and a new coach."

The Journal Star also looked at some key DHS opponents, including the Lady Longhorns' Sept. 10 rival, Hampton, which will feature six returning starters and "should be much improved," according to the sports writers.

On Oct. 1, DHS will take on Meridian, who will boast "four returning starters" looking to improve on last year's 18-8 record. And on Oct. 8, Dorchester will face Exeter-Milligan at the Parkview Christian invite. EMHS, which finished 2008 with a 20-10 record and a No. 4 final ranking, return five starters -- including a 6 footer -- and "should contend for a state title," according to the Journal Star.

Other important match-ups include DHS' contest at Clay Center, which had a 2008 record of 29-3 and made the D-2 state tournament semifinals, with a No. 4 final ranking. According to the Journal Star, "the Wildcats have two of the best players in the state at their position." On Oct. 30, DHS will face Nebraska Lutheran, which looks to improve upon its 18-7 record from last year with five starters returning.