Sunday, July 29, 2012

Wilber Preparing For Czech Days 2012

The first full weekend of August is almost here and area folks, regardless of age, are making preparations for the annual Czech Days Festival in Wilber.  This year's festival theme: "Celebrating 150 Years of Sokols."

This three-day event is one of Saline County's most recognizable gatherings.  Our readers in Wilber tell us that town officials have spent months preparing for the 2012 National Czech Festival, which will be held this Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday (Aug. 2-Aug. 5).

Every year at this time, the population of Wilber swells to as many as 50,000 as folks come from miles around to celebrate their own Czech ancestry or to pay tribute to some of the county's early pioneers. The community of around 1,700 has been the Czech capital of Nebraska since 1963 and of the United States since 1987. The festival itself began in 1962.

This year, Czech Days activities will include a free dance at Hotel Wilber, Czech bingo, the accordion jamboree, a children's parade, an art show, dance contest, Czech dinners, museum tours, quilt show, Czech heritage demonstrations, and the sounds of various polka bands. The official Czech Days' parade starts at 2 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday. The Miss Czech-Slovak U.S.A. Queen Pageant begins at 7 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday at the outdoor theatre.

Our personal favorite events are the kids' parade, BINGO and the vendors the many historical displays/demonstrations. For more information and a full listing of the Czech Days' activities, click here.

If you do go, have fun and be safe.  And if you don't speak Czech, just tell them: Moje čeština je špatná.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Uncovered Photo Shows Dorchester Grain Elevator In 1907

The grain elevator has always been a staple of our Midwestern rural communities. But in Dorchester, our elevators have changed a bit over the years, in both name and physical appearance.

In 1881, when Dorchester was officially incorporated, Dorchester had two grain elevators. The drought of the 1890s reduced that number to one -- the J.R. Clark elevator.  The Times has located an amazing photo of that elevator, taken in 1907.

In the late 1910s and early 1920s, soaring land prices and plummeting grain prices brought the expanding farm economy to an abrupt halt. In 1920, the Dorchester Farmers Cooperative had an operational loss of $3,203 -- the only year with a net loss in the history of the company, according to our research.

Despite some lean years, the cooperative survived and later thrived. The 1940s and 1960s brought massive expansion to Dorchester's grain storage facilities.

Today, Farmers Cooperative, with its headquarters in Dorchester, is a modern success story.  The elevator and its storage bins dominate the Dorchester skyline. Farmers Cooperative serves as an economic hub for the area, and is comprised of sepearte energy, grain, feed, and agronomy departments. Farmers Cooperative owns facilities in 40 other communities, including DeWitt, Milford, Swanton, Tobias, Western, McCool Junction and Wilber. Total operating revenues are estimated well into the tens of millions of dollars.  Property tax revenue provides generous returns for the Village of Dorchester.

Dorchester's grain storage facilities and farmers cooperative have certainly come a long way. We at the Times are proud of the contribution that our cooperative and its producer members make to our town and local economy in 2012.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Report Shows Saline County Is Now In Severe Drought

According to the National Drought Monitor, compiled by researchers at UNL, Saline County has officially entered the stages of severe drought.  The monitor had showed Saline County and most of southeast Nebraska in the "moderate drought" stage until the monitor was updated today. Much of Nebraska is in the extreme drought category.  An area north of Grand Island is now in the "exceptional" stage.

Last night's and today's early morning storms failed to deliver substantial moisture. Our official Times rain gauge showed only 0.20" this morning, July 26, at 6:30 a.m.

Small chances of rain remain in the immediate forecast. 

According to our official weather source, Lawrenceville Weather, the chance of precipitation is only 20% this afternoon, as well as Saturday and Sunday evenings.

Stay up-to-date by viewing the area radar by clicking here.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

DHS Football Schedule Announced

Coming off a strong season last year, Dorchester football hopes to turn some heads this season in Nebraska eight-man football.

The Longhorns ended their 2011 gridiron campaign at 5-3.  The team's only losses were to teams that had 7 or 8 wins in the regular season, including Class D2 runners-up Pawnee City. 

Although some standout DHS players were lost to graduation, there are plenty of positives this season. 

The only question this year will be team depth. 

The Times as been informed as many as 16 players could be out for football this year; we have also been told that as few as a dozen will be in uniform. It seems we will not know for sure until practice begins.

The 2012 schedule is comprised of division foes (for playoff births), except for the first three games.

The return of coach and former DHS standout Brent Zoubek, along with the steady guidance of coach Ryan Voelker, who has been at the helm for 8 years now, has many fans excited about the long-term potential of this program.

A bit of trivia: 8-man high school football is played in only 16 states. DHS converted from 11-man to 8-man in the fall of 1991 -- the same year Dorchester joined the CRC Conference.  DHS has fielded a football team every season since 1949, when the program restarted after a 25-year hiatus following the game-related death of Clyde Moser in the mid-1920s.  In the early 1960s, Dorchester transitioned from 6-man to 8-man, and in 1969, converted to the 11-man game, which it played for 22 seasons prior to the 1991 season.

-- 2012 DHS Football --

08/31 -- Kenesaw at Nerud Field
09/07 -- at Diller-Odell
09/14 -- Deshler at Nerud Field
9/21 -- at Mead
09/28 -- at Osceola
10/05 -- Parkview Christian (Lincoln) at Nerud Field
10/12 -- at Nebraska Lutheran (Waco)
10/19 -- Hampton at Nerud Field

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Axlines Celebrate 60 Years Of Marriage

Another couple is preparing to celebrate their diamond anniversary in Dorchester.

Harry and Marlene Axline will celebrate their 60th anniversary with an open house hosted by their children next Sunday, July 29, from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Dorchester Legion Hall.

No gifts, please, according to the notice.

See the notice published in the Lincoln Journal Star by clicking here.

Drop by and give your best to the Axlines on this remarkable milestone.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Our Perspective: Public Image Counts More Than Ever

Five years ago, Dorchester made national news thanks to an Associated Press story on the growth of the ethanol industry.  That old AP story is still relevant in 2012.

The AP article appeared in newspapers across the nation and was read by millions of Americans. A recent
Google search found the article is still readily available on the Internet.  Set in Dorchester, the article opened with the following:

"DORCHESTER, Neb. -- Outside of two bars and a bank there’s little activity on Washington Street here, where more windows are covered by boards than 'Open' signs. But at the end of the street, semi-trailers stir the dust near a concrete symbol of economic activity. It towers over the signs of small-town decay ..."

The story serves as a good reminder that Dorchester needs to make improvements if we are to enhance our public image and our own quality of life.

Five years since that story was published, there have been many upgrades across town. Recognition goes to those individuals who made an investment of time and financial resources. The new school is still remarkable. The main street electronic marquee, upgrades made to the city park, and improvements of buildings along main street are all commendable and deserve a "thank you" from fellow residents.

However, we are disappointed by some of the eyesores that remain -- blighted properties that could be easily improved. One such property is the area behind the Dorchester car wash (pictured above).  Others are homes in complete disrepair, such as the house on the corner of 9th and Jefferson.

Readers can blow these words off.  Shrug your shoulders.  Look the other way.  But public image matters.  

For Dorchester, public image may very well set the course for this community's future.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

DHS Basketball Camp, July 30, For Student In Grades 6-12

Doane College's basketball head coach, Jim Weeks, will be conducting a one-day basketball camp for Dorchester youth in grades 6-12.  Your Longhorn student -- whether male or female -- is encouraged to attend this helpful camp if he or she wants to get better at the game.

Coach Weeks is a very accomplished basketball mentor, with three state titles in high school basketball during his 24 years at Beatrice High School.  Weeks started his basketball coaching career as a student teacher in Dorchester in the mid-80s.

Under Weeks' guidance, Beatrice made it to the Class B State Tournament 15 out of the last 17 seasons. 

Doane's assistant coaches will also be at the DHS to help teach students the proper techniques in shooting,

The camp will be held July 30 from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. at the Dorchester School gym.

Cost is $25 per player (students must bring their own lunches).  Checks should be made payable to Jim Weeks. 

If you would like more information or to register, contact Scott Pohl, Dorchester Public School Activities Director, by e-mailing 

Saline Co. Designated As Livestock Friendly By Governor

The Times has learned that Governor Dave Heineman yesterday announced the official designation of Saline County as Nebraska’s newest Livestock Friendly County. With the addition of Saline County, there are now 17 counties designated as Livestock Friendly through the state program.
"In receiving this designation, Saline County has shown it is committed to supporting the county’s livestock industry and related economic development," said Governor Heineman. "Being part of the Livestock Friendly program is a way to recognize the tremendous impact the livestock industry has on Main Streets and the local economy."

Governor Heineman presented the Livestock Friendly certificate to Saline County Commissioners Willis Luedke, William Wenz, Janet Henning, Marvin Kohout, and Richard Jiskra. The county also will receive road signs bearing the program logo to display along highways. The program is coordinated by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA).

Some extereme environmental groups and animal rights activists, as well as anti-development types, have opposed the Livestock Friendly program.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Report Says Saline County Needs To Improve Early Childhood Education

Did you know that 31% of Saline County's youngest citizens -- ages 5 and under -- are at risk?

That is according First Five Nebraska, a non-profit group that advocates more focus on early childhood development.

According to First Five, Nebraska has more than 47,000 children ages 0-5 who are at risk in failing school and later in life.  This is an increase of nearly 5,000 kids over the past five years.

The group reports that without quality early childhood learning opportunities, these kids are:
  • 25% more likely to quit high school;
  • 40% more likely to become a teen parent;
  • 50% more likely to be sent to special education classrooms;
  • 70% more likely to be arrested for a violent crime.
Saline county has seen a 5% increase in at-risk kids since 2005.  The figures compiled by First Five were reached by estimating the the number of children 5 years and younger who are at  below 185% of the federal poverty line, as well as incorporating other factors.  The 185% marker is about $40,700 in annual income for a family four -- an average income in Saline County, which offers a low cost of living compared to larger cities. 

Still, we think the study and the cause of First Five deserves serious consideration, particularly in our area if we are to grow Dorchester and its quality of life.  See the study and the First Five Nebraska website by clicking here.

Share Your Sunset & Sunrise Photos With Our Readers

Summer brings some of the best sunsets and best memories -- and the Times hopes will area residents will share their sunset images with our readers. All you need is a digital camera or mobile phone, as these Saline County pictures prove. 

If you find yourself with a front-row view of a beautiful sunset or sunrise, or any other summertime moment, take a picture and share the experience with fellow Times' readers. We will use them in a future post.
Here's all you have to do:
  1. Take the photograph with any picture-enabled mobile phone or digital camera.
  2. Send it to
  3. Include your name and a brief description in the message field.
By submitting your video(s) or photograph(s) you confirm that you agree to grant the Dorchester Times a perpetual, royalty-free right to use your images and make them available to the public. You grant to the Times the right to edit and/or modify your material in any manner necessary in order to have the material comply with our formatting or publication needs. You further agree to indemnify and release the Times of any and all liabilities for any claims, charges, injuries, losses or damages of any kind caused by, resulting from or arising out of your submission or the Times' use of the image(s). 

Now, with the legal terms out of the way, please submit your material. Fellow readers anxiously await to see your work.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Farmers Almanac Predicts Good Chance Of Rain, July 16-31

This is shaping up to be a summer for the record books. (UPDATE -- See the Dorchester area radar by clicking here.)

The last significant rainfall in the Dorchester area occurred on June 14 when 2.75" fell in our official Times rain gauge.  Since then, we've received only trace amounts, with about 0.25" falling on June 20.

Conditions in Dorchester and Saline County are currently categorized as a "moderate drought" stage, according to the UNL Drought MonitorBut our status could be elevated to "severe" when the monitor is updated tomorrow.

According to, there is a 25% chance of thunderstorms on Wednesday and Thursday. But we are turning to the trusted Farmers' Almanac for more hope.  According to the Almanac, here is the outlook for southeast Nebraska:
  • Today-July 19.  Thunderstorms Northern, Central Plains, then fair.
  • July 20-23.  Fair, hot, then showers.
  • July 24-27.  Scattered showers spread rapidly east through the Plains, then fair.
  • July 28-31.  More scattered showers, thunderstorms.
We are hoping the Almanac is more right than rain!

You can view pictures of drought conditions from throughout Midwest by clicking here.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Western, Neb. To Celebrate 140th Birthday

Our neighbor community to the south, Western, will celebrate its 140th birthday July 20-21.

If your family is looking for something to do next weekend, make the drive down Highway 15 and help the residents of Western celebrate No. 140.

Friday (July 20) highlights: 5:30 p.m., chicken barbecue; 6 p.m., cruise; 7 p.m., children's parade; 8 p.m., free family movie in the park. Bingo and Community Club Food Stand open.

Saturday (July 21) highlights: 10:30 a.m., beard contest; 1 p.m., firemen's water fight; 1:30 p.m., kids' tractor pull, followed by adult tractor pull; 2 p.m., "Yesterday's Lady" fashion program by Sue McClain; 3 p.m., homemade pie/ice cream; 6:30 p.m., "Oldtime Western Shootout"; 7 p.m., "Western Reflections -- 140 Years" parade; second shootout follows parade, birthday cake and music by The Skalak Band. Food stands, bingo, and inflatable games and rides.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Dorchester's Best Football Teams Of All Time

A few years ago, the Dorchester Times ranked the best high school football teams our community has ever produced.  That's an ambitious project for a little blog.  We enjoyed reviewing the comments left following that article.

Now we have a different staff and we want to take another stab at this list, relying on the expertise and collective memories of former athletes and long-time DHS sports fans.

No doubt, this is a difficult comparison.  First, there have been some very solid teams produced by DHS over the past 50 to 60 years.  

But what made our ranking extremely challenging is the fact that DHS football has offered four formats over five decades.  In the early 1960s, Dorchester went from 6-man football to 8-man. Then in 1969, DHS converted to the 11-man game, which it played for 22 seasons.  In 1991, the school reverted to 8-man due to a drop in student enrollment.  And let's not forget that in 1949, DHS' football program was restarted after years of not playing the game.

Still, we've done our best to fairly rank the Longhorn football teams of the past.  And today, we unveil the definitive list. (PLEASE NOTE: The years we cite are the autumns of the school year.  For example, 1961 represents school year 1961-62.)

Beginning with the best DHS football teams of all time, here is our list:

1.)  (tie) 1961 -- Undefeated and perhaps the most talented bunch at every position.  Names like Tesar, Guggenmos, Axline, Sysel and August dominated the opposition.

1.)  (tie) 1979 -- Also undefeated, this team was touted as one the best Class C-2 teams in Nebraska by many, including Lincoln and Omaha sportswriters.  The group certainly claimed the best skill-position players DHS has ever seen on one team.

3.)  1971 -- This DHS team was also undefeated.  Many in the area still claim this was the best Class D team in the state that year.  (As a side note, former DHS coach Jack Guggenmos' four years at the helm produced a 29-5-2 record.)

4.)  1977 -- Ranked No. 7 in Class C-2 by the Lincoln Journal and No. 5 by the Omaha World-Herald at season's end, this group claimed the Pioneer Conference champion trophy. "The hardest hitting team ever to wear the DHS uniform," one local expert said.

5.)  1986 -- This team was ranked No. 8 in Class C-2 by the Omaha World-Herald at season's end. State qualifier. Also, the only team we know of who had a member, Bob Zoubek, shatter a helmet on an opponent. Led by the classes of 1987 and 1988, both blessed with skill and size.

6.)  1987 -- The group was ranked No. 9 in Class C-2 by the Lincoln Journal and No. 5 by the Omaha World-Herald at season's end. State qualifier. Led by the classes of 1988 and 1989, two classes with deep talent.

7.)  1978 -- Ranked No. 5 in Class D by the Omaha World-Herald at season's end, the group was champions of the Pioneer Conference.  A preview of the successful 1979 team.

8.)  1958 -- This was one of DHS' first great football teams.  The squad finished the season ranked No. 2 in 6-man by the Omaha World-Herald.

9.)  1976 -- Ranked No. 5 in Class D by the Lincoln Journal and No. 7 by the Omaha World-Herald at season's end, this group was in the midst of the mid-to-late 1970 glory days for DHS football.  Pioneer Conference champs.

10.)  1999 -- This team had a 7-1 regular season record, with the state's second-leading rusher in Jed Burkey, and was ranked most of the season.  A late season injury at QB likely prevented this team from reaching at least the quarter-finals in the D1 playoffs.

***** Honorable Mention *****
  • 1959 -- Ranked No. 8 in 6-man by the World-Herald.
  • 1994 -- State qualifier. Only team to lead No. 1 Falls City Sacred Heart that season.
  • 2006 -- State qualifier in 8-man.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Our Perspective: THIS Is Our Time!

In farm country, times are good.  In fact, times may never be better than now.  There is gold in those corn and soybean fields surrounding our community.  Dorchester would be wise to capitalize.

This week, soybean prices hit their highest level (well over $15/bu.) in four years after the country's extended spell of hot, dry weather.  Corn futures jumped more than 5% (over $7/bu.) and wheat finished up 4.8% (over $8.30/bu.).  Prices will remain high for the foreseeable future as grain and soybean supplies are low, due to the hot weather across the U.S.  Thankfully, most producers in Nebraska have access to irrigation water that will all but ensure a great harvest.

Farmers and livestock producers have always been the backbone of rural communities like ours.  They fuel the commerce that drives main street.  They create jobs. They pay the bulk of property taxes and keep the school doors open.  They take out the loans that allow the banks to pay the rest of us interest and make money available for homes and autos.

No doubt about it: This is a golden era for farming.  Dorchester leaders should be having a conversation with our area farmers and discussing ways that they can invest in our village.  Dorchester needs them to have a stake in our town's future.  And most of those ag producers who have ties to Dorchester want to play an active role in bettering our lives here.

We are likely at halftime of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.  In another three or four years, this boom could be over. 

Area ag producers who have made some handsome profits are going to spend and invest their money somewhere.  Why not in Dorchester?

That question needs to be answered by Dorchester's elected and community leaders.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Saline Co. Fair, July 17-22, Will Bring Big-Name Band

B.J Fictum of The Crete News reports that it's almost time for the Saline County Fair, which begins with entry day Tuesday, July 17 and concludes Sunday, July 22 with the 4-H style revue and kids pedal pull competition, includes several new features for all ages.

According to Fictum's report, the carnival will make its triumphant return July 19 through 22 with a variety of rides and amusements, including armband specials on all four days.
Also, the lakebed amphitheater will be the setting for a Friday night Concert by four-time Grammy-nominated country performers, Highway 101. The music kicks off at 8 p.m. July 20.

Finally, Saline County’s version of the popular Food Network show “Cupcake Wars” will premiere July 19 in the Exhibition Building.

Ticket prices for Highway 101 are $10 general admission IN ADVANCE, $15 at the gate. Tickets are available right now by going online to get your tickets at Farmers Cooperative’s Dorchester branch.

See the full schedule for the county fair by clicking here.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Tobias Man Chases, Shoots At Wife & 11-Year-Old Daughter

10/11 News reports that the Saline County Sheriff's Dept. has arrested a father in Tobias after he shot a gun in the house while his 11-year-old daughter and her mother were hiding from him.

The details are as follows:  Last night, around 8 p.m., an 11-year-old reported her father was drunk and shooting a gun in the house, attempting to get to her mother and her. Officials say the child and her mother had barricaded themselves in the upper level of the residence to protect themselves from Garcia. Saline County Sheriff deputies along with assistance from the Fillmore County Sheriff, Jefferson County Sheriff, Wilber PD, Friend PD, and the Nebraska State Patrol established a perimeter.  The 11-year-old communicated to officers through phone calls telling them what was happening within the house.

Just after 10 p.m. police arrested 51-year-old Salvador Renderos Garcia and retrieved the mother and her child from their hiding spot. No shots were fired by officers.

Garcia was arrested for terroristic threats, use of a weapon to commit a felony, domestic disturbance with a firearm, discharge a firearm in an occupied building, child abuse, and disturbing the peace.

There is no mention if Garcia is a legal resident of the United States.

More Than 500 Jobs Available In Our Area

It's a tough economy out there.  No doubt about it.

But if you have a friend or relative who says he just can't find work, chances are he's not trying hard enough.

The Dorchester Times has found more than 500 private-sector job openings in the 50-mile radius surrounding our community.  Let us repeat: more than 500 current job openings.

We used the NEWorks database provided by the Nebraska Department of Labor for our search.  Readers can see the job listings by clicking here.

If you know someone in or around Dorchester who is complaining that nobody is hiring, we suggest you show them this link or give them the printed list of all 500-plus job openings. 

There is simply no reason for any capable body to be unemployed in this area of our great country. 

Monday, July 2, 2012

Dorchester Pee-Wee Team Finishes Second At SFS Tournament

The Times has learned that the Dorchester Pee-Wee baseball team captured second place this weekend at the SFS tournament in McCool Junction.  According to an e-mail from one of the team's coaches, the Dorchester players survived 100-degree heat to defeat two Wilber clubs and an extra-inning contest against Exeter to advance to the championship game.  Twelve teams competed in the area.  (Picture is courtesy of Amanda Johnson via her Facebook page.) 

Here is how the action went down according to information we received:

"The fifth-seed Dorchester club beat the Wilber Black team 8-2 on Friday evening in the first round, thanks to a stellar pitching performance by Collyn Brummett.  On Saturday, Dorchester and fourth-seed Exeter dueled in a 0-0 tie for six innnings, until Dorchester finally broke through in the top of the sixth inning, scoring five runs off one of the league's top pitchers, thanks to the speed of Christian Weber and the bats of Mitchell Kratochvil, Brummett, Hoffman, and Kohl and Karter Tyser.  Kratochvil and Ridge Hoffman pitched for the win.  Key defensive plays were made by Blake Hansen and Kelton Williams."

"On Sunday, in the semi-finals, Dorchester gave the No. 1 seed Wilber Green team their first loss of the season, defeating them 3-1 on a solid pitching performance by Hoffman.  In the championship game, Dorchester gave up four early runs to the No. 2 seed Wilber White team, but held them scoreless after the first inning.  Unfortunately, Dorchester couldn't get their bats going and ended up falling 4-0 to win the second place trophy. Dorchester went 11-6 on the season."

The Times is impressed with this team video that was sent to us by the coaching staff.  Thank you for sharing the news and video with our blog's readers.  Congratulations to the Dorchester Pee-Wee team on their success and for representing our community well.

We are told the Dorchester American League team begins their SFS tournament play this evening.  Good luck to the American League squad.