Friday, April 30, 2010

EDITORIAL: Time For Nebraska To Adopt Arizona's Immigration Law

Unless you've been living under a rock, you've heard about the firestorm sparked by Arizona's new anti-illegal immigration law. The passing and signing of the bill into law demonstrate that Arizona lawmakers and its governor have prioritized the safety and security of its citizens above all other considerations.

It is now time for Nebraska lawmakers to do the same.

The Arizona law is rather straight forward. It does the following three things:

  • Requires officials and agencies of the state and political subdivisions to fully comply with and assist in the enforcement of federal immigration laws.

  • Gives county attorneys subpoena power to investigate certain employers.

  • Establishes crimes involving trespassing by illegal aliens, stopping to hire or solicit work under specified circumstances, and transporting, harboring or concealing unlawful aliens.

Nearly two-thirds of voters in Arizona endorse the new law, according to a well-respected poll published this week. That level of support, from a state that is nearly 35% Hispanic, is proof positive that illegal immigration is a priority in the voters' minds.

It appears that state lawmakers in Texas, Maryland and other states will introduce a bill that mirrors the new Arizona law. Such a move makes sense. If the federal government won't protect its citizens and safeguard our borders, let the states do the job that federal politicians won't do.

It is our hope that several Nebraska state senators will also follow Arizona's lead and introduce similar legislation in the next session. And it needs to happen soon -- if not for the sake of national security and border sovereignty, then at least to address the fact that 8 million U.S. jobs today are held by illegal aliens, at a time of 10% national unemployment.

The time has come to fix the immigration mess.

Another Town Hall To Discuss Streets, Set For Monday

The Dorchester Village Board will conduct another town hall monthly meeting this Monday, May 3 at the Community Building. The meeting will start at 7 p.m. Much of the meeting will again be devoted to the condition of the streets and the possibility of paving.

The Times non-scientific online opinion poll found that roughly 82% (out of 167 votes) of readers say they want to consider paving. This publication recently advocated putting the issue on November's ballot. Approximately 13% of readers would rather see more gravel applied to the town's roads. About 4% want nothing done. Only one vote per IP address was allowed. Approximately 75-80 residents attended the April village board meeting to voice their support or opposition to street paving. According to various reports, two of the five current town board members oppose paving, while only one member publicly supports it. Reportedly, three of the board members will not be returning to the body next year.

All town residents, regardless of position on paving, are encouraged to attend Monday's public meeting to let their town representatives know their position. In the meantime, check out street-related comments left by Times readers by clicking here.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

DHS Alumni Banquet Set For May 29

The DHS class of 1990 and the DHS Alumni Association will present the 2010 DHS Alumni Banquet on Saturday, May 29. Make your plans now to get caught up with friends and classmates.

The event will begin at 6 p.m. at the school. Doors will open at 5 p.m. for those who would like to see the new school. The banquet will feature Windsor Loins, as classes who graduated in years ending will "0" will be honored.

Tickets are $16 per person. Extra donations can be given to the DHS Alumni Association or the Dorchester Alumni Association Scholarship Fund. Mail checks (made payable to the "Dorchester Alumni Association) and reservations to: DHS Alumni Association, P.O. Box 247, Dorchester, NE 68343.

Deadline for reserving your ticket is May 19. Special events are also planned at Joe's Place, Ben's Iron Grill and, on Sunday morning, at the Dorchester Methodist Church.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

DHS Electric Vehicle Racing Team Takes Top Honors

The Times has learned that DHS' electric vehicle (EV) racing team has concluded their racing season and brought home some hardware. The team is comprised of DHS industrial arts students Jermey Inderlied, Sid Stern, Spencer Kotas, Kyle Palky, Russel Barak and Dustin Rathbun.

The Dorchester EV racing team competed in two races this year -- one in Lincoln and one in Columbus. They finished second in Lincoln, missing first place by only half of a lap. In Columbus, the DHS team came in first and won the school's first trophy. The winner of a race is determined by how many laps a car can do in an hour.

Omaha Public Power District started this program to challenge students to think about alternative fuel. Approximately 75 schools compete in the program, which is known as "Power Drive" or "Electrathon America." In addition to the competition and team work, the class teaches the students about aerodynamics; alternative fuels to help America diversify its energy sources; and the basics of how a car works. The students must devise a plan and build the car from scratch. Also, the students collect donations to help pay for the materials needed to build the car.

The DHS EV racing team would like to thank Young's Welding of Friend for donating all of the metal used to build the frame of the car; Al's Auto Body for donating the painting materials; and Palky Farms, CarQuest, Novak Auction Service, and Radio Shack for the cash donations.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Main Street Sees 59% Increase In Weekend Traffic Since '08

While Dorchester village officials should not expect any grumbling about traffic jams anytime too soon, they may want to take notice of the dramatic spike of weekend traffic on Main Street from just two years ago. They may also want to recognize the sizable increase in economic activity created by those who arrive in the additional vehicles.

According to a study conducted by the Times staff, traffic on Dorchester's three-block business district has surged 58.6% on Friday and Saturday nights compared to just two years ago.

The Times compared ten random traffic counts taken in 2008 and another ten taken in 2010. The tallies were taken between the hours of 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. on Friday or Saturday evenings, when Dorchester's Main Street (Washington Ave.) tends to be its busiest.

In 2008, the average number of cars or trucks parked in the business district was 12. This year, the average number of autos was 29.

The increase in traffic can likely be attributed to the success of Ben's Iron Grill, Joe's Place and increased community activity at the Legion Hall and Dorchester Community Building.

The extra vehicles mean big dollars for Dorchester, even when using conservative estimates. We figure that each vehicle on Dorchester's Main Street on a Friday or Saturday evening equals at least $30 spent in town on food, drinks, donations, gasoline or something else. Using that figure, the additional 17 vehicles appearing in the business district on weekend nights would translate into an extra $53,000 spent in Dorchester throughout the course of a year.

An extra $53,000 in a town of 650 people? That, dear readers, is economic growth.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

DHS' Lawver No. 1 In Class D, No. 5 In State For Discus

Dorchester's Karmen Lawver is leading the Class D female rankings for the discus event, according to the Lincoln Journal Star.

The DHS senior, who won gold medals at the state meet last year in both the discus and shot put, is currently No. 5 among all female discus participants in the state. Lawver's top throw this year is 134-8.

The Dorchester track and field squad will compete at the Class D-1 district tourney on May 12 in Auburn to determine which tracksters advance to state. The state track and field meet will be held the fourth weekend in May.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

NEWS BRIEFS: Coming Weekend Features DHS Drama, Free Concert

  • DHS Presents Murder Mystery/Comedy This Weekend: The Times has learned that the DHS drama team will be presenting "Murder's in the Heir" this Saturday, April 24, at 7 p.m. and Sunday, April 25, at 2 p.m. Also, junior and senior high drama awards will be presented Sunday at 1:30 p.m. in the school cafeteria. All area residents are invited to come to the show and help decide who committed the murder in this mystery/comedy.

  • Student Council Hosting Cookout On April 30: The DHS Student Council will host a hamburger cookout for area community residents and students on Friday, April 30. There will also be a "Make A Wish" auction to follow. Hamburgers will be served beginning at 6:30 p.m. and the auction will start at 7:30 p.m. Location is the school parking lot. Proceeds will go to the "Make A Wish" Nebraska Chapter.

  • Popular Band Playing At Ben's Iron Grill This Weekend: The Bill and Terry Band -- featuring members of the former band Home Grown -- will be playing at Ben's Iron Grill this Saturday, April 24, from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Country and classic rock at their best. No cover charge.

  • DHS Booster Club Needs $150 More To Reach Fundraising Goal: DHS Activities Director Scott Pohl thanks everyone who has graciously made a donation to help the DHS Booster Club achieve its goal of $1,000 toward the purchase of new scoreboards and wrestling mats. He writes: "We are getting close to reaching the goal but are still about $150 short. Please consider donating toward this worthwhile project before the deadline of April 30. " Pohl says that if $1,000 is donated, the Booster Club will match the $1,000. Donations may be sent to: Scott Pohl, Dorchester Public School, Box 7, Dorchester, NE 68343.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Dorchester Times Notes Three Years Online

Three years ago this week, the Dorchester Times made its debut. Today -- nearly 1,100 days and an estimated 250,000 page views later -- we find ourselves the most widely read Web site based in Saline County.

Back in April 2007, we wrote: "Welcome to the Dorchester Times. This site is dedicated to our town, Dorchester, Nebraska. While we relish our proud past, we also enjoy the blessings of today and eagerly look forward to the future." The same holds true today.

Some of the reader comments from our very first post included the following:

  • "Interesting project you have here. I grew up in Dorchester and graduated from the high school in 1974 and now reside in Colorado. I hope you update frequently."

  • "This is a nice community service."

  • "This is a great start to promote a nice community. Dorchester is almost like 'Cheers' in that everyone knows your name."

  • "Don't know who is doing this but it's done very well. Kind of like having a Dorchester newspaper."

  • "Just added the Times to my favorites. Will be back often."

We have enjoyed the journey and look forward to many, many more posts. Thanks to our our readers for the past three years.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Jessica Hansen Elected State FBLA Secretary

The Dorchester Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) chapter attended the FBLA State Leadership Conference April 8-10 at Omaha’s Holiday Inn Central. The students heard motivational speakers, competed in various business tests and had social activities with more than 2,000 students from across the state.

According to Dirk Coon, DHS business and computers instructor and the DHS FBLA adviser, the Dorchester chapter was recognized with the "Go Green" award and the "Sweepstakes" award. The "Go Green" award consisted of completing a variety of environmental activities, such as highway cleanup and educating elementary students about recycling. The "Sweepstakes" award was based on the completion of another set of activities, including having a state FBLA officer speak at a meeting, writing four chapter reports, creating and managing a local FBLA Web site and attending state meetings.

Also at the conference, Jessica Hansen received honorable mention top 5% in the areas of cyber security and sports management. Hansen was also elected as Nebraska's FBLA state secretary for the 2010-11 school year. To qualify as a candidate, she had to pass a test about the history and procedures of FBLA, give a speech and be interviewed. In addition to other duties, she will attend the National Leadership Conference in Nashville, Tennessee in July; present at the State Fall Leadership Conference in 2010; present at the State Leadership Conference in 2011; act as a speaker at local chapter meetings; and take minutes at all state officer functions.

We congratulate Jessica on her new leadership role and commend the DHS FBLA chapter on a job well done.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

EXCLUSIVE: One-Third Of DPS Students Getting Free Or Reduced Lunches

A third of the students at Dorchester Public School are receiving their meals courtesy of the state's taxpayers. That is according to the latest "State of the Schools Report" released by the Nebraska Dept. of Education.

The report states that last school year (2008-09), about 33% of the student body in the Dorchester school district were receiving their meals free or at reduced prices.

The rules determining whether students can get their meals free or reduced are set at the federal level in Washington, DC. Those guidelines are based on family size and income or benefits such as Food Stamps or Temporary Assistance to Needy Families.

Only 18% of students in the Wilber-Clatonia school district receive free or reduced price lunches, while about 23% in the Friend school district get their meals courtesy of the taxpayer.

Nearly 40% in the Crete school district get free or reduced meals.

On average across Nebraska, about 35% of K-12 students get taxpayer subsidized or purchased meals.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

EDITORIAL: Put Paving On The Ballot

On the issue of paving, it is time to let the people decide. Let's put the question on November's ballot.

This is the position of the Times staff.

Monday's townhall and public meeting held by the Dorchester Village Board -- and attended by approximately 75 residents -- revealed several challenges facing our community. Not only are the streets a mess, but the village will soon need to devote some dollars to repairing drinking water infrastructure, including the water tower.

But comments from the public made it clear: There is a strong resolve to at least begin the process of paving Dorchester's streets. (After our many rants on community appearance, we take satisfaction in knowing we have lots of company.)

As one Dorchester resident told the board, we have a choice. We either address Dorchester's street problems today or we pass them off to next generation. And if we chose the latter, there may not be a next generation.

Also, as another townhall participant commented, there will never be another time in the next 30 years when materials and interest rates are as low as they are now.

We were very disturbed to hear a small handful of Dorchester property owners who live in other communities are opposed to Dorchester residents attempting to improve their quality of life. This issue needs to be decided by the citizens of Dorchester -- not by real estate owners who reside in Friend or elsewhere.

We are hopeful more young people, those under 40 years old, will speak up. In 1979, it was primarily the opposition by young families that killed paving. This time around, let's hope that it will be the vocal support for paving from this age group that pushes the issue through to fruition.

With paved streets will come new home construction; more home improvements; increased property value; less damage to vehicles; better air quality; less money spent on gravel and city employee labor; a renewal of community pride; and a better quality of life in general. Supporting paved streets is the easy call. Finding the means to pay for them is a much more difficult task. But to delay the project would be Dorchester's ultimate folly.

It's time to let the chips fall where they may. The well-being of Dorchester is in the balance.
(Note: Due to the numerous posts regarding paving, street-related reader comments may be found here.)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Manufacturing Camp Set For June 11-12 In Milford

Local high school juniors and seniors who want to explore opportunities in the well-paying manufacturing sector now have a chance to get hands-on experience in designing and making a product start to finish. And in the process of learning, they will have a fun time doing it.

The 2010 Manufacturing Summer Camp is set for June 11-12 at Southeast Community College in Milford. Participants will learn how new products are invented; tour local manufacturing facilities; and learn how local entrepreneurs created their businesses.

Space is limited, so don’t delay in registering. The camp includes an overnight stay and costs $25. For more or to register, call Tim Mittan (402-437-2524) or Kirby Taylor (402-761-8369).

Monday, April 5, 2010

Town Hall Addressing Streets, Tonight At 7 p.m.

Tonight marks a watershed moment in Dorchester's history.

At 7 p.m. at the Community Building, the Dorchester Village Board will hold a critical town hall meeting on the condition of Dorchester's streets. The Times non-scientific online opinion poll finds that roughly 82% (out of 166 votes) of readers say they want to consider paving. Approximately 13% of readers would rather see more gravel applied to the town's roads. About 3% wants nothing done. Only one vote per IP address has been allowed.

Last month, town residents attended the March 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. Reportedly, three of the board members will not be returning to the body next year.

All town residents, regardless of position on paving, are encouraged to attend tonight's town hall meeting. In the meantime, check out street-related comments left by Times readers by clicking here.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

NEWS BRIEFS: At Least Five Challengers Applying For Village Board

  • Happy Easter From The Times: The Times wishes our readers a happy Easter. May you and your families enjoy the holiday together, as you remember the many the blessings bestowed upon Dorchester and our country. “He has risen!”

  • At Least Five Challengers Filing For Village Board Seats: According to various reports, at least five challengers will seek one of the three town board seats up for election this fall. Sources tell the Times four of the five challengers support at least partially paving Dorchester streets. The fall elections could mean big changes to the Village Board. Currently, two of the five board members staunchly oppose paving, while only one publicly supports it. The other two board members appear to be undecided. 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.

  • Wind Energy Legislation Appears Likely To Pass At Legislature: Remember all that talk about a wind farm being located in Saline County? Some supported the idea; others said it was plain goofy. Whatever the case, the proponents of that plan will likely have more ammunition in a couple of weeks. It appears the state Legislature is about to pass a wind energy bill that would allow private development within a public power state to develop wind for export. The bill is LB 1048. The Lincoln Journal Star has a story about it in their April 3 edition.

Friday, April 2, 2010

OPEN FORUM: April 2010

April brings another "Open Forum" to Times readers, giving them a chance to say something, report breaking news or ask a question. Any topic is fair game, although our comment policy still applies. Keep it clean and 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.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

BREAKING: Sources Say Paving Begins Tomorrow

A well-respected, trusted source has informed the Times that paving equipment will roll into town tomorrow morning to begin paving more than a dozen of Dorchester's gravel streets.

The source spoke to the Times on the condition of anonymity. According to details provided, a Lincoln-based company will be conducting the paving work. "We're going forward," the source said.

When asked if the village board had the authority to pave streets without a direct vote of Dorchester residents, the Times was told that "gap paving" is allowed under Chapter 19 of the State Statutes. Paving will occur on streets connected to existing paving, for up to 1325 feet from existing pavement, according to the source.

Reportedly, former village board members who served during the 1979 paving debate will be on hand to watch the process. The former board members "may even break ground on one of the gravel roads," the source said.

The Times has learned that several paving opponents have caught wind of the plan and will be picketing on Main Street to greet the pavers.

The picketers are said to be considering resurrecting a key argument used by opponents in the 1979 dispute.

The slogan picketers will use? "We lived on a farm and walked in both dirt and manure and it didn’t hurt us."

(UPDATE, 11:20 a.m.: Happy April Fools Day. We wanted to lighten the mood and hope our readers can share a chuckle with us.)