Monday, March 29, 2010

Times Survey: 86% Want To Consider Paving

A week before a critical townhall meeting on the condition of Dorchester's streets, roughly 86% (126 votes) of Times readers say they want to consider paving. That is according to the results of a Dorchester Times online poll.

As of 9 a.m. this morning, 147 readers participated in the online poll, which will be active for another week.

Approximately 13% (19 voters) of readers would rather see more gravel applied to the town's roads. About 1% wants nothing done.

Earlier this month, town residents attended the Dorchester village board meeting and presented photos showing street conditions in their neighborhood. Those residents told the Times that the village board is not nearly as supportive of paving as readers of the Times.

According to various reports, two of the five current town board members oppose paving, while only one member publicly supports it. The other two members appear to be undecided.

Three of the board members will not be returning to the body next year. Those who want to run for the village board have until Aug. 1 to file at the county election clerk's office in Wilber -- unless they already hold another elected office, in which case they have until July 15.

A week from tonight, on April 5, a special townhall and town board meeting will be held at the Dorchester Community Building. The meeting will start at 7 p.m. All town residents, regardless of position on paving, are encouraged to attend.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

A-FAN Features Weber Feedyards In Promotional Video

Dorchester has its own YouTube sensation.

Thanks to an e-mail from a Times reader, we have been alerted to a video featuring a tour of Dorchester's Weber Feedyards, located just a couple of miles west of town. Produced by the Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska (A-FAN), the video feature feedyard owner and operator Joel Weber, who explains the importance of providing good care for cattle. During the short video, he notes that comfortable cattle perform better and produce higher quality beef.

See the video by clicking here.

Livestock production is a key to wealth in Nebraska. A-FAN reports that Nebraskans living in the state's top seven livestock producing counties enjoy higher levels of personal income than those living in other non-metropolitan counties, according to a study by NPPD. Residents in those top seven counties had a 10% higher average annual per capita personal income than their counterparts in other rural counties.

When it comes to the livestock industry, Saline County is trailing the herd. Saline County ranks 48th of the 93 Nebraska counties when comparing market value of ag products per acre, according to an NPPD study. Saline County has a $190-per-acre ag product value, of which about $54 can attributed to the county's livestock and livestock products. That is 10% less than the Nebraska average. We agree with our e-mailing reader who said, "More livestock in Saline County would go a long way in lowering the property tax burden."

Friday, March 26, 2010

OPEN FORUM: March 2010

The Times' "Open Forum" gives readers their chance to say something, report breaking news or ask a question. Any topic is fair game, although the Times' comment policy still applies. Keep it clean; keep it civil. (Please see the bottom of the left-hand column.)

The Times' Web site averages around 650 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. Our "Open Forum" is also a great place to find out what old friends are up to, get advice, share and find information, and let the Times' staff know what you'd like to see on this community Web site.

Go ahead and sound off. We are listening.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Book Explores Problem Of Out-Migration From Rural Communities

In a posting at, journalist Jonathan Liu has written a review of a new book on the problem of out-migration that has negatively impacted the Great Plains and rural America for the past three decades.

"Hollowing Out the Middle: The Rural Brain Drain and What It Means for America" is a new book by Patrick Carr and Maria Kefalas. Liu, who recently moved to a small rural town in western Kansas (population: 800), decided to read the publication because of his interest in community development and his concern that the "brightest kids" from rural America "often leave for bigger cities and don’t come back."

Liu writes that authors Carr and Kefalas are a husband-and-wife team of sociologists who reside in rural town in northeastern Iowa. The couple interviewed hundreds of people, focusing mostly on the young adults who graduated from the small town in the 1990s. Liu says, "What they found makes for a fascinating story about the 'hollowing out' of middle America, and they argue unequivocally that, yes, it matters, whether you live in New York City or Tribune, Kansas."

The book's authors sorted their subjects into four basic categories: Achievers, Stayers, Seekers, and Returners. Achievers are the ones who show promise early on -- and are academically (or sometimes athletically) gifted -- and typically leave their small communities for college, never to return. Stayers are those who take over the family business or get a job during high school and end up living out their adult lives in the same town. Seekers are those who can’t wait to leave, but don’t have the grades or scholarships to do it; they often end up in the military as an escape. Returners are those who come back to their small town after leaving; sometimes out of a sense of responsibility and purpose, but often because the outside world turned out to be less pleasant or more challenging than they expected.

The authors "devote an entire chapter to each of the four groups, outlining the reasons many of these young people make their respective decisions," Liu writes.

He adds: "Rural communities expend a disproportionate amount of effort, resources, and training on the very kids that aren’t likely to stay; and the ones who stay often get little attention. ... (T)his inefficient practice is what has gutted so many small communities across the Midwest and it has had a devastating effect."

Liu said what troubled him the most is that when the book's authors talked to administrators at the small-town Iowa high school, "there was no surprise that their smartest kids were being put on a path to leave: it’s what they’d always done, and they knew they were doing it. ... After you spend ten years training a kid to think he’s 'too good' for his small town, can you turn around and convince him that he should stay?"

Liu concludes that the book's authors make a compelling argument for why the rural brain drain matters (both to the rural communities and for the entire nation) and then offer possible solutions. You can purchase Hollowing Out the Middle from Amazon or your favorite bookseller.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Challenge Issued To DHS Nation: Your Financial Help Needed

The Dorchester Booster Club is offering a challenge to DHS alumni, patrons of the Dorchester School District and residents of the Dorchester area community. Numerous gym renovation projects are planned, according to DPS Activities Director Scott Pohl, including installation of new scoreboards, which school officials hope to acquire before the 2010-11 sports season. New wrestling mats are also being considered.
The Booster Club will match up to $1,000 for any donations that are given to the school towards the purchase of the new scoreboards and or wrestling mats. Todd Jensen, along with the Dorchester Little Kids Wrestling program, are also offering to make a significant donation toward these major purchases.

Donations of any size may be sent to the school in care of:

Scott Pohl
c/o Dorchester Public School
Box 7
Dorchester, NE 68343

Any amount, large or small, would be appreciated and will help meet the challenge that the Booster Club has made. If anyone has any questions about either purchase or how they help, they may contact Pohl at school (402-946-2781) or on his cell (402-418-1992).

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Three Longhorns Named All-Staters

Three DHS basketball players have been awarded Class D1 all-state honors this weekend.

The March 21 issue of the Lincoln Journal Star lists Dorchester senior Spencer Kotas in its boys' all-state honorable mention rolls.

DHS seniors Charity Springer and Karmen Lawver were bestowed all-state honorable mention accolades for girls' basketball. This marks the second consecutive year Lawver has been named to the all-state list.

We salute both all three Longhorns for their accomplishments on the court and are glad to see their hard work pay off in the form of deserved recognition.

Friday, March 19, 2010

DHS Basketball & Volleyball Tournaments Set For This Weekend

The sixteenth annual Dorchester Alumni Basketball Tournament is set for March 19-21 at the Dorchester High School gymnasium, according to DHS activities director Scott Pohl.

Ten teams are registered for this year's tournament. The first game will tip off Friday evening, March 19, at 6:30 p.m. and the tourney will run through Sunday, with the championship game at 4 p.m. (Click on the image at the upper right to see a larger view of the 2010 tournament bracket.)

The DHS Alumni Volleyball Tournament will also be held held in the Dorchester multi-purpose room (new gym). A round-robin tournament will take place Saturday morning to determine the seeding for a single elimination tournament, which will be held in the afternoon.

All interested parties and Dorchester alumni are invited to attend. For questions or more information, call Scott Pohl at (402) 946-2781. Also, several events are planned for this weekend, including a DACF fundraiser lunch on Saturday at the Community Building and special events at Joe's Place and Ben's Iron Grill. Please support the area businesses and organizations this weekend.

Community Foundation Plans March 20 Meals For Alumni Tournaments

Those participating in this year's DHS Alumni Basketball and Volleyball Tournaments this weekend will have hot food waiting between games and after the action.

According to information sent to the Times, on Saturday, March 20, the Dorchester Area Community Foundation (DACF) will be serving soup and hamburgers at the community building . There is no word yet on the times that the DACF will be serving, but stay tuned for more information on this event.

The DACF is focusing their fundraising efforts on their next project -- permanent "Welcome" sign that will greet travelers coming through Dorchester on Highway 33 and the spur off Highway 6. The town's park shelter was the original project spearheaded by this group. If you are interested in serving on the Welcome Sign Committee, contact Dale Hayek at (402) 641-4075.

Please make plans to join DACF for a great meal and help the foundation raise funds for the town's welcome signs.

Could Immigration Enforcement Be Coming To Saline Co.?

Last summer, the Times received a couple anonymous e-mail tips that claimed federal authorities were planning an "immigration enforcement action" in Saline County. We waited, but such action never came -- at least that we are aware of.

Now, about eight months later, federal authorities have indicted 17 people in Fremont on fraud, identity theft and related charges following an immigration probe at a meatpacking plant. The AP reports that U.S. Attorney Deborah Gilg's office says a federal grand jury has returned indictments on those people arrested March 9 at the Fremont Beef Co. for immigration violations.

The suspects are accused of using the identities of U.S. citizens who had complained to the Federal Trade Commission that their identities had been stolen. The 17 people come from Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.

We wonder if similar action could be coming to a location closer to home? No word yet from our tipsters.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Whether you're searching for a new home, promoting your business, looking for help on the farm, or selling your kitchen table -- the Times is the right place to advertise locally. This site is currently averaging more than 600 hits a day, so your ad is sure to get noticed. And you can take comfort that if you find a product or service you want, you will likely be doing business with someone who has a local tie. Best of all, posting ads is absolutely free as a service to our readers.

To post your classified ad, simply click on the "comments" link at the end of this post. Then, in the "Leave Your Comments" box, just enter the details and information you want people to see. If you are uncomfortable leaving your phone number or permanent e-mail, we recommend using or other service to establish a new e-mail for responses to your ad. Browsing the classifieds is easy, too. Just click on the "comments" link below and scroll down to view the ads in the left-hand column.

Online classifieds can make life easier for both buyers and sellers in our local area. The Times does not require an account and, again, there is no charge to post a classified on this site. If you sell your item or no longer want your ad to be seen, simply e-mail us at and we will remove your ad.

The Dorchester Times assumes no responsibility for claims or representations made by any classified ad. Please check and authenticate every classified that interests you. By posting an ad or responding, you acknowledge the Times is under no circumstances liable for the product or service offered, nor is the Times responsible for payment or delivery by either party.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Sign Up Now For Baseball, Softball Teams; Meeting Is March 23

Spring is in the air. Soon you'll be hearing that sweet sound of bat on ball!

Parents, please note that area youth who are interested in playing Dorchester baseball or softball are encouraged to sign up now. The participation fee is $25 for one child to play and $35 if there are multiple children from the same family. Also, a $50 refundable deposit is required; parents will get the $50 back if they volunteer to work twice in the concessions shack or umpire a game on the bases. Players are required to buy a uniform shirt, which will be theirs to keep.

The parents of all interested players should contact a baseball/softball committee member for more information. The committee members are "Big Lee" Hohensee, Bill Velder, Lisa Wells, Kim Plouzek and Lyle Weber.

There will be an organizational meeting this Tuesday, March 23, at 7 p.m. at the school for "last chance" sign-up and to gather more information. If you sign up after March 31, there will be a $10 late fee. The committee is also looking for coaching candidates, and will be hiring two people to umpire behind the plate for the season. The organization will pay for the two umpires to get certified and supply them with proper gear. Those interested in the coaching or the paid umpire positions should contact one of the committee members.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Area Residents Place 3rd In Polar Bear Tank Race

On March 5-6, more than a dozen residents of the Dorchester area joined several other brave souls in a race down the Middle Loup River near Mullen, Neb. in livestock tanks. The third annual Polar Bear Tank Race involved teams of 4-6 members who competed in a rally race aboard a stock tank for approximately four miles.

The race was limited to 22 teams. Participants also came from Lincoln, Genoa, Omaha, Ralston, McCook, Valparaiso, Raymond, Anselmo, Halsey, Stapleton, Chadron, Broken Bow, Crete, Wilber and the states of Iowa, Colorado and Texas. The event was a fundraiser for the Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway, Nebraska Highway 2 from Grand Island to Alliance.

The four local gentlemen pictured above came in third place. They generously returned their winnings of $230 to the Scenic Byways organization. The team was comprised of (back row) Joel Hoesche, Roger Beranek, Darryl Coffey and (front) Larry Kasper.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Which Street Is Dorchester's Worst?

The Times wants to know where in town can we find the worst road conditions?

If the streets in your neighborhood are in particularly bad condition, tell us about it in the "Reader's Comments" section.

Better yet, take a picture and send it to We will publish it on this Web site. No actual names of readers will be used. Those e-mailing photos to the Times should detail the location (block and street name) of the conditions pictured.

In the meantime, check out what readers are saying about the paving debate, the April 5 town hall, and other street-related issues by clicking here.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Janelle Weber Places At NAIA National Championship Meet

Former DHS Longhorn Janelle Weber, now a senior with the Doane College Track and Field women’s team, earned an 11th place finish at the NAIA National Championship Meet held in Johnson City, Tenn., this past week. The Doane women finished 17th overall at the championship meet. Weber competed in the triple jump at the national meet, jumping a distance of 38-00.25. We congratulate Janelle on her impressive accomplishment.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Streets Are Focus Of Discussion On Open Forum

The condition of Dorchester streets and the question of paving continue to be the main topics of discussion at this month's Open Forum post, located below.

Click here to see the lastest comments from readers.

The issue of street paving has been one of the most frequently mentioned topics by readers of this blog, as evidenced by these old posts.

Friday, March 5, 2010

DACF Steak Feed & Fundraiser This Saturday

This Saturday evening, March 6, the Dorchester Area Community Foundation (DACF) is again hosting its Steak and Hamburger Feed. The event will be held from 5 p.m. until 9 p.m. at the Dorchester Legion and Community Building. Those attending will be treated to a delicious 12 oz. rib eye steak for $12. The meal will include a dinner salad, baked potato, dessert, and beverage. The Legion bar will be open also. This event was a hit last year, with nearly 200 served. For smaller appetites, a hamburger meal is also available.

With the recent completion of the Charley Havlat Memorial marker, located on the grounds of the Saline County Museum, will use the proceeds from Saturday's steak feed for their next project -- a permanent "welcome" sign place along the highways coming into town. The Dorchester City Park shelter was the first project spearheaded by DACF. Those interested in serving on the DACF Welcome Sign Committee should contact Dale Hayek at (402) 641-4075.

Plan on joining your friends and neighbors from all around the area and help us "welcome" everyone to Dorchester.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

April 5 Town Board Meeting Will Address Streets

As we reported earlier, almost all the reader comments at this month's Open Forum are related to the condition of Dorchester's streets. We were pleased to read the comments from Carol Olson, who reports that she attend Monday's village board meeting, along with fellow resident Joyce Karl. Olson wrote that she spoke to the village board and presented photos showing street conditions in her neighborhood.

In her comments, Olson reports: "Two of the board members believe that the town's residents, like themselves, don't want paved streets. One board member supports paving. The other two members seem to be on the fence."

Olson says that she and Karl "will put on their muck boots" and go door-to-door to gather the residents' opinions about what should be done about the street conditions here in town.

According to village board member Lyle Weber, streets will be a key agenda item on the agenda for the April board meeting. The next town board meeting will be Monday, April 5 at 7 p.m. in the Community Building. Weber writes: "Everybody who cares about this topic (for or against) should attend this meeting. Let the board know how you feel, either way."

The Times is on the record. Long ago, we said that our staff supports paving at least some of Dorchester's streets. Over the long term, paved streets would greatly improve Dorchester's quality of life and bring new and improved housing to town, which in turn would generate considerably more revenue for the community and school district.

Paving also makes sense in the short term. In recent years, the Village of Dorchester has budgeted more than $70,000 for maintenance of streets. This figure does not include the cost of employee labor -- and benefits.

Since the days of the "great paving debate of 1979," the Times estimates that the Village of Dorchester has spent roughly $1.65 million on upkeep of gravel roads (not including labor). This is money that could have been better used for permanent paving projects over the past 30 years.

In the end, paved streets make sense if Dorchester residents want their town to thrive in the 21st century. Paved streets are the answer for those Baby Boomers will spend their retirement years here. Paved streets are needed if we want our young people to consider making Dorchester their home in the future.

That's our two cents. We encourage town residents to post their comments here. Or give informed, thoughtful remarks to those who are going door-to-door to gather opinions.

Also, you may cast your vote on what you think should be done with Dorchester's streets in our online poll, located in the left column. As always, Times' staff members will not be participating in the poll.