Thursday, August 30, 2012

Funds Needed Now To Complete Dorchester Welcome Signs

As reported earlier, the Dorchester Community Foundation is raising funds to finalize the town's welcome sign project.   

According to Foundation officials, the plans are to build the first sign on Highway 33 on the south side of town.  That welcome sign will rest on the west edge of the Saline County Historical Society’s property.   

A second sign will then be erected on the west side of Highways 6/15 near the access spur north of town.  

According to information provided to the Times, both signs will mirror the design that is to be painted on the village's new water tower, which could be completed yet this year or early 2013.  Planners wanted to tie the new signs to Dorchester’s new symbol, which will soon sit high above the town's rooftops for decades to come.

"This will be a great first step in re-branding Dorchester's public image for the new century," said one community leader. "I hope everyone in town, the surrounding area, as well as Dorchester natives who now live elsewhere will contribute to this worthy cause."

The signs will be rather substantial in size, measuring 8' tall (pillars) and 20' wide.  They will stand on an elevated landing measuring 6' by 24'.  Plans are to have them lighted, as well.  

The signs will be all concrete and brick and should require little to no maintenance.

The Dorchester Community Foundation has secured some funds, but must now raise approximately $16,000 to complete this important project that reflects our community pride. 

The Dorchester Community Foundation is currently accepting donations to help complete the project. 
The Welcome Sign Committee is made up of the following Foundation members:  Mike Pracheil, Eric Stehlik, Carol Olson, Linda Easley and Dale Hayek.

If you would like to contribute to this project, make checks payable to Dorchester Community Foundation Fund. 

Donations should be sent to:

Joyce Karl
108 Whitmar Avenue
Dorchester, NE  68343


Dale Hayek
652 County Road 1200
Dorchester, NE  68343
The Dorchester Community Foundation Fund is a non-profit subsidiary of the Nebraska Community Foundation so all donations are tax deductable.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

DPS Activities Merger With Milford Appears Likely

Over the past decade, Dorchester High School and Dorchester Junior High have experienced a significant decline in the number of students who participate in athletics and other school activities.  This decline in student involvement has been an often-mentioned topic on the Times. (It should be noted that schools around the state have experienced similar declines, due mostly to single-parent households and less parental involvement, according to experts.)

Last night, Aug. 27, in a special, town-hall style meeting of the Dorchester School Board, parents overwhelming supported the concept of a proposed activities merger with Milford Senior and Junior High Schools. 

Of the  dozens of Dorchester school district parents who attended the meeting, only two raised objects to the DHS-MHS activities merger.

One source told the Times:  "It's going to happen. They (Milford) want us.  We want them."

According to the details provided to the Times, the merger -- if approved by both school boards -- would impact junior high athletics next year, the 2013-14 school year.  High school sports would be affected the following school year, in 2014-15.  All sporting events would most likely be held at Milford's facilities.  While football seems to be of top concern, it is unclear whether the merger would also apply to basketball, volleyball, softball, baseball and track, or just selected sports.  Also, it is uncertain if the merger would apply to student clubs, such as FFA, drama, FBLA, etc.

As we reported earlier this summer, the shrinking number of DHS and junior high student athletes and club participants has caused many parents with elementary-aged students to wonder if Dorchester will be able to continue supporting current programs a few years from now.  Only 11 DHS students are out for football this year, excluding foreign exchange students.

This latest school board action comes after several complaints were aired earlier this year by some Dorchester School District residents who strongly objected to a plan to join Friend for junior high athletics.  There were reports of aggressive actions by Friend School Board members, who are also large land owners in the Friend district, as they sought to set their own ground rules prior to any activities merger.  (UPDATE: Other Times readers have commented that this is not the case.) One source in Friend told us FPS board members were confident an activities merger could lead to a school merger within two years, which would assist the Friend district with its debt. 

To the best of our knowledge, the plan for an activities merger with Friend has been abandoned, but at least one former Dorchester family has enrolled their children in Friend, which has struggled to field teams of its own.

According to some area residents who spoke to us this summer, Milford officials are very open and interested in discussing the proposed activities merger, but the Times has not spoken to any Milford School Board members to see if the interest still exists.

Milford is classified as a C-1 school in team sports, according to our research.  Merging with a D-2 or D-1 school like Dorchester likely would not affect Milford's status, judging by the numbers needed for Class B attainment.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Suggestion Box: Recommendations For The School Board

This is the first post in our "Suggestion Box" series, providing Times readers the opportunity to submit comments and questions for elected officials serving on the Dorchester School Board.

Questions and suggestions may address a variety of issues, ranging from topics such as school activities, classroom curriculum, option enrollment, facilities, and school budget and spending issues.

We ask readers to keep their comments civil and thoughtful, just as if you were attending a public meeting or speaking to board members face-to-face.

Elected officials need to be accountable to their constituents. 

But please keep in mind that school board members, like other local leaders, are volunteers. Respect them and their willingness to be a public servant.

Saline County Lake Removed From Health Alert

Nebraska has issued a health alert for toxic blue-green algae in more lakes in the southeastern portion of our state, including Gage County.  But the Times has learned that the health alert for Swan Creek Lake No. 5A in Saline County has ended.
People can still camp, boat and fish, but shouldn't swim in the lakes or drink the water in lakes that have been placed on alert.  Ingesting toxin-tainted water can cause health problems, including vomiting, diarrhea and, rarely, death.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Online Poll Results: Street Paving, Blighted Homes Are Top Priorities Of Readers

It's official.  Readers of the Dorchester Times want their paved streets.  And they want something done about the abandoned homes in town.

Time and again, this has been the finding of surveys of Dorchester residents, formal and informal.  The Times poll is just the latest confirmation.

By the time our online survey closed on Sunday, revealed nearly half (47%) of the 93 respondents said Dorchester's top priority over the next 12 months should be paving more of its streets. 

Repair or removal of blighted homes came in as the second-most popular priority item, garnering 38% of the votes.  Working to fill vacant buildings downtown by enticing new businesses came in third at 30%

A quarter of the voters wanted top priority to be creation of a 2020 plan with specific goals to accomplish over the next eight years.

In fourth place (30%) was repairing or removing blighted property, such as homes in severe disrepair.

It appears that a new baseball/softball diamond, as well as a swimming pool, are low on the priority list, garnering only 7% and 9% support, respectively.

The six volunteer staff members who operate the Dorchester Times agreed to not participate in any of our online surveys.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Dorchester: Where We Stand Today

In our story below, about the Dorchester t-shirts, it seems many readers are a little confused about Dorchester's population.  After all, the population signs along Highway 33 and the Highway 6 spur still say 615.  Just before the 2010 Census was conducted, many had assumed Dorchester had grown in population.

But the U.S. Census of 2010 reported that there were 586 people, 233 households, and 166 families residing in our village. At this time two years ago, there were 253 housing units in Dorchester.

Other findings from the 2010 Census include:
  • The racial makeup of the village was 90.8% White, 1.0% African American, 0.2% Native American, 0.2% Asian, 6.8% from other races, and 1.0% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 9.7% of the population.
  • The median age in our village was 37.5 years. 26.1% of residents were under the age of 18; 7.1% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 26.4% were from 25 to 44; 26.8% were from 45 to 64; and 13.3% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the village was 48.5% male and 51.5% female. For every man over 35 there were 30 kids under 10.
  • Of our 233 households, 31.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.8% were married couples living together, 11.6% had a female householder with no husband present, 3.9% had a male householder with no wife present, and 28.8% were non-families. 24.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.52 and the average family size was 2.98.
  • As of 2000 the median income for a household in the village was $34,000, and the median income for a family was $40,982. Males had a median income of $29,803 versus $23,750 for females. The per capita income for the village was $16,389. About 4.1% of families and 6.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 2.8% of those under age 18 and 8.8% of those age 65 or over.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Be Cool As Cool Can Be In Your New Dorchester Tee

Whether Dorchester is your hometown or you are just a big fan, you'll enjoy this "City Limit" road sign t-shirt.

That's the sales pitch from a website called 

And who knows? Maybe all the cool kids will be wearing these.

The Dorchester city limit shirt features green road sign with population POP. 602 for our community. It sells for $18.95 per shirt.  A variety of styles are available for men and women at different costs.

The website says the shirt is "comfortable, casual and loose fitting, our heavyweight t-shirt will quickly become one of your favorites. 

"Made from 6.0 oz, pre-shrunk 100% cotton, it wears well on anyone. We’ve double-needle stitched the bottom and sleeve hems for extra durability. Imported."

To order the t-shirt, which you can customize, click here.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Just As We Reported In 2008, Armadillos Invading Our Area

The Lincoln Journal Star is reporting that an armadillo found dead on Monday on a Butler County road may be a "pioneer" that wandered into central Nebraska along the Platte River Valley.  "The state of Nebraska is the northernmost range of the nine-banded armadillos," Professor Patricia Freeman, head of the zoology laboratory at UNL, wrote in an email. The mild winter and an extremely warm March may have something to do with the armadillo in question's survival, she said.

But back in the summer of 2008, the Dorchester Times received an e-mail from a reader who asked us to look into an armadillo spotting in the Dorchester area. Frankly, we didn't take the request seriously at the time. However, by early October 2008, the AP reported that another armadillo had shown up in Nebraska -- this time as roadkill in Lincoln.

The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission says the leathery mammals have been spotted across the state for about a decade, but are still rare. Armadillos are common in the South, where they're a nuisance because of burrowing. The animals don't hibernate, so their survival depends on the severity of winter.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Dance Classes Offered In Dorchester

Did you know dance classes are available in Dorchester?

In 2011, Chandra Walker, a resident of Martell and owner of Center Stage Dance Studio, moved her dance classes from Crete to Dorchester. 

That's good news, especially since experts say dancing offers tremendous benefits to kids of all ages.  Center Stage offers classes to dancers from age 3 to adults.  Girls and boys are welcome.

Dancers start at age 3 with a creative movement and pre-clogging class.  Once the dancers have started first grade, they begin their 1st Level of clogging class.

For more information, call (402) 440-5648 or e-mail

Monday, August 13, 2012

DHS' Football Season Looks Promising

The August 12 edition of the Lincoln Journal Star, in a special insert reviewing the 2012 high school football season, gave Dorchester's football program a big thumbs up.  The newspaper reported that DHS, over the past two seasons, has made consecutive trips to the state playoffs for the first time since 1986-87. The Longhorns lost to Humphrey St. Francis in last year’s first round.

The Journal Star wrote: "Dorchester, which seeks a third straight trip to the playoffs, returns solid experience, led by two-year starters Jordan Jensen and Kolton Kaspar.  Kaspar rushed for a team-high 662 yards and 13 touchdowns last season.

"However, depth is a concern and any injuries could derail the Longhorns, who won five games for the first time since 2006.  The team’s leading tackler from a season ago, Brandon Stilwagon, with 117 stops, is gone.

But Kaspar leads a talented defensive front that includes Rick Palky and Eric Bird."

DHS returns five starters on offense and four on defense.

Jordan Jensen, who caught 17 passes for 302 yards and four touchdowns last season, is in the Journal Star's spotlight, since he also had 79 tackles and was the team’s punt returner.

DHS' playmakers, according to the Journal Star, are:
  • Jordan Jensen;E/DB;5-9;135;sr.
  • Kolton Kaspar;RB/DE;5-10;175;sr.
  • Rick Palky;OL/DE;6-4;220;sr.
  • Eric Bird;E/DE;5-11;145;sr.
  • Justin Schwisow;OL/DL;5-10;250;jr.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

No Joke: Harvesting The First Week Of August

For Dorchester farmer Shelley Bruha, this week brought a first for him after decades of farming.  Bruha, along with several other area producers, were busy harvesting corn the first full week of August. 

The Lincoln Journal Star features Bruha's experience in a story it has published in today's newspaper.  Click here to read the story.

How bad is the drought?  According to the story, Bruha's "withered, unirrigated field that normally would produce 120 to 130 bushels per acre managed 40 in the driest Nebraska growing season in decades. 'I’ve never heard of such a thing,' the 69-year-old Bruha responded when asked about his earliest harvest ever."

"Sometimes, the first part of September, we might have harvested,' he added, 'but never the first part of August. Nobody has, I don’t believe.'"

Friday, August 10, 2012

Olga Bruha Celebrates 95th Birthday

In 1917, the United States declared war on Germany and entered WWI. America's military draft was initiated that year, as well.

In 1917, Babe Ruth was busy beating ... the New York Yankees, as he pitched for the Red Sox.

In 1917, Lenin named Russia "free land of world," establishing the Soviet Union -- and then called for the killing of all capitalists, priests and officers.

And in 1917, Dorchester's Olga Bruha was born.

Last Sunday, August 5, Olga celebrated her 95th birthday today.

Be sure to wish her a belated happy birthday!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Blogger Doesn't Care For Dorchester's Welcome Sign

Have you ever heard of Virtual Tourist?

It's a website that allows users to post pictures and their experiences following their visits to communities and attractions around the world.

One registered user of Virtual Tourist named "Rich62" has posted his review of Dorchester.  And he is not a big fan of our welcome sign on the east side of town.

Rich62 -- a retired teacher who says he was born in California, raised in Colorado, and has lived in Nebraska since 1972 -- writes:  "Most welcome signs are a testament to community pride. This one, well, not so much."

Rich62 also comments on the size of Dorchester's grain elevators, saying, "These structures are a testament to the production of farms around Dorchester. That's a lot of grain (probably corn) in those elevators."

If you'd like to see Rich62's review of our community, click here.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Fire Blackens 50 Acres South Of Town

The Associated Press has reported on yesterday's fire seven miles south of Dorchester.  

The blaze drew nearly five dozen firefighters from four fire departments, including Dorchester Volunteer Fire Dept.

It took firefighters more than five hours to put out a blaze that blackened nearly 50 acres.

The blaze started Monday afternoon. Dorchester Fire Chief Todd Axline said a bearing overheated on a hay baler, igniting the fire. Farmers helped fight the fire by disking around the perimeter to keep it from spreading.

Two firefighters were taken to Crete Area Medical Center for treatment and soon were released. No damage to buildings was reported.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Czech Days Festival Draws More Than 45,000

Nebraska Radio Network is reporting that sunny, cooler weather helped to boost attendance for this past weekend’s Czech Festival in Wilber.

Charlie Keller, president of the Nebraska Czechs of Wilber, estimates about 45,000 people turned out for the annual fest, which ran Friday through Sunday. “Everything’s been so fabulous, the weather’s been so good, what a beautiful crowd,” Keller says. “I can never complain about Czech Days. People show me that there’s a lot of good people.”

Keller said the festival’s twin parades on Saturday and Sunday each ran two to two-and-a-half hours and were very well-attended. He says the weather was the greatest blessing. After recent highs well over a hundred degrees, this past weekend’s temps only climbed into the 80s with lows in the 60s.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Our Perspective: The 3 Keys To Happiness In Dorchester

Life in Dorchester is good.  Don't believe us? Consider the following:
  • Unlike many others, we're earning more than ever before.  In the past 10 years, Dorchester's estimated median household income has risen to more than $41,100, compared to $34,000 in 2000.
  • Unlike other areas in the U.S., our home values are rising.  Dorchester's estimated median house value today is $95,750; it was $60,200 in 2000.
  • Cost of living here is among the lowest in the country.
  • In the areas of property crime and violent crime, Dorchester's rates are about one-third the average rates for Nebraska.
But statistics don't matter much when we are down on our friends, neighbors and community.  To enjoy life, we all need some encouragement. We must avoid the pitfalls that lead to unhappiness as members of a community -- any community.

In general, three key pitfalls to avoid are:

1.)  The desire to change other people.  When last did you want to change your own family members? Did it work? For most of us, it did not. So why try to overhaul your neighbor or fellow citizens? The truth is, no matter how hard we try to change another, it’s likely not going to work. Instead, talk to your neighbors and fellow community residents.  Listen.  Understand their hopes and dreams.  Convince them to be part of making their community a better place.

2.)  Impatience. It’s very frustrating when things are not going the way we want them to.  Some of our staff members have been trying to pave Dorchester's streets for years. We have learned to wait, wait and wait. That doesn't mean giving up on our hopes for a better future.  But the good book tells us to "be satisfied with what you have."  That's the ultimate path to happiness.

3.)  Jealousy.  This is a very destructive and devastating emotion, perhaps worse than any other human quality. It will destroy relationships and communities -- even nations.  We must learn to get rid of it as soon as possible and overcome it by believing in causes bigger than ourselves.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Host A Foreign Exchange Student

The Dorchester Times has been asked to encourage our readers to consider hosting a foreign exchange student this school year.

Donna Scholl, an International Exchange Coordinator with EF Foundation for Foreign Studies, tells the Times that anyone who is interested in hosting a foreign exchange for the 2012-13 school year in the Dorchester school district may contact her at  Or call her at (402) 947-1507.  

"Let me know what your family interests are and I would be more than happy to find 'your perfect' student -- and family’s lifetime friend," Scholl said.

All the host family needs to supply are: 1.) room and board; 2.) meals but if student eats at school then they pay for their lunch; 3.) love.  Student provides his/her own spending money.

Matt and Donna Hansen hosted two young men last year and had a great year, according to Scholl.  She said the Hansens will gladly share their experience to anyone who is interested in hosting an exchange student. DPS Superintendent Mitch Kubicek would like to see 2-3 students placed in the Dorchester school district.

Visit and see the available students and countries.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

BREAKING NEWS: Dorchester Lands Housing Grant From DED

One-third of Times readers say they want Dorchester officials to prioritize the removal or clean-up of blighted homes and properties.  Now the Times has learned that the Village of Dorchester is recipient of a $10,200 Community Development Block Grant to develop a housing market study.

We at the Times commend village officials and administrators for their proactive approach and hard work in landing the funds to conduct this important first step. 

One person with ties to the Village Board told us: "This development is an indication that Dorchester could see a wave of new housing starts and housing renovations, especially if appeals are made to younger residents to stay in Dorchester and raise their families here. We hope parents will start communicating that message to their teenage children."
The Dorchester grant is part of $113,500 awarded by the Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED) under Governor Heineman for first-cycle planning for five communities with ongoing planning efforts.  All funds are administered by DED, but come from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. 

Applications for a second cycle will be accepted beginning October 19, 2012. 

What type of new housing would you like to see in Dorchester? New homes with large lots? Perhaps a retro co-housing project like this one in Boulder, Colo.? Or maybe even small, four- or six-plex apartment units?

We are interested in what kind of housing you think Dorchester needs and will allow our community to prosper.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

2012 Lady 'Horns Look To Establish Winning Culture

The official 2012 DHS volleyball schedule has been announced. 

The Lady Longhorns are looking to bounce back from a disappointing 5-19 campaign last year under head coach Larry Burrows. 

In 2011, DHS failed to defeat a team with more than four wins for the entire season.  

Insiders say this year should bring more success.

This year's contests include several top-notch programs, including powerhouse Exeter-Milligan, who went 32-2 in 2011 as Class D1 state runners-up.

A large majority of the Longhorns' contests are on the road this year.

The Lady 'Horns are expecting good things this year with key players returning to the court and impressive young talent.

--- 2012 DHS Volleyball ---

08/30 -- Palmyra and Weeping Water at home
09/06 --Giltner and Hampton at Giltner
09/13 -- Friend at home
09/18 -- Osceola at home
09/20 -- High Plains and Shelby/Rising City at High Plains (Polk)
09/25 -- at Sterling
09/27 -- Meridian and Diller-Odell at home
10/02 -- at Parkview Christian (Lincoln)
10/04 -- Exeter-Milligan and Cross County at Cross County (Stromsburg)
10/09 -- McCool Junction and Bruning-Davenport at McCool Junction 
10/23 -- Parkview Christian and Nebraska Christian at Nebraska Christian (Central City)
10/26 -- at Nebraska Lutheran (Waco)