Friday, September 28, 2012

URGENT: Donations Needed Badly For Welcome Signs

As reported earlier, the Dorchester Community Foundation is raising funds to finalize the town's new welcome signs.  These signs will feature the community's new logo, which will also be on the village's new water tower -- to be completed yet this year or early 2013. 

The concrete and brick welcome 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 Dorchester Community Foundation needs your help now to raise approximately $16,000 to complete this important project that reflects our community pride.  Contact friends, family, DHS alumni and Dorchester natives all over the country and encourage them to donate $25, $50, $100 -- whatever they can afford.
You can contribute to this project by making checks payable to Dorchester Community Foundation Fund.

Donations should be sent to:

Mr. 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 deductible.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Harvest Time

Corn harvest is well underway in Dorchester and most of Seward and Saline Counties. 

Around 40% of the crop has been brought in from the fields in Nebraska — three times more than by this date in the previous five years because of early planting, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported.

Due to the ongoing drought, more than 40% of Nebraska's corn crop and 50% of soybeans are rated poor or very poor. 

And ours is the fortunate state, blessed by ample irrigation resources.  Conditions are much worse elsewhere in the Corn Belt.

This is one of the reasons experts predict considerable food inflation in coming months.

This photo was taken by the Farmers Cooperative and was e-mailed to us by a loyal reader.


Today, the Dorchester Times concludes its comparison of the performance of our own school district to surrounding schools -- to see how our kids and our teachers are faring. 

To gauge performance of our students and educators, we have utilized data from the Nebraska Department of Education and its most recent State of the Schools Report (2010).  What you are about to read is official information. 

Today we focus on writing -- an area in which U.S. students are falling behind due to texting, informal e-mails and other modern means of communicating.

4th Grade Writing Percentage Proficient

Dorchester -- 94.12%
Milford -- 92.31%
Friend -- 92.00%
Wilber -- 85.37%
Crete -- 78.43% 

11th Grade Writing Percentage Proficient

Crete -- 98.04% 
Dorchester -- 89.47%
Friend -- Not Reporting
Milford -- Not Reporting
Wilber -- Not Reporting

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Bob Hostetler Passes

We are saddened to report that Dorchester's Bob Hostetler has passed away following his long, courageous battle with cancer.

More than two and a half years ago, Bob had surgery at the Creighton Medical Center to remove cancerous tumors from his esophagus and stomach. Since that time, Bob had battled the disease with varying degrees of success. But remarkably, he continued to stay active and productive, continuing his lawn care service and even returning to work in Seward after months of treatment.

One Times reader wrote: "Bob was part of Dorchester's community backbone. Always willing to lend a hand and help a fellow resident. He was also one hell of a fighter, defying cancer and the doctors' odds just so he could spend more time with his family and friends. Dorchester lost one of its best today.  God bless Bob and God bless the Hostetlers."

(UPDATE: A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, September 29, 2012 at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Crete, with Fr. Julius Trvdy , Fr. David Bourek, and Fr. John Keefe, officiating. Following a luncheon at the church, interment will be in St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery, Friend. Rosary will be Friday, at 7pm at Sacred Heart Catholic Church.  Visitation will be 9am-5pm Friday at Lauber-Moore Funeral Home, Friend and one hour prior to service at the church on Saturday. Memorials have been established and may be directed in care of the family. See the funeral notice here.)


The Dorchester Times continues its comparison of the performance of our own school district to surrounding schools.  This is part three of our four-part series. 

To gauge student and teacher performance, we have utilized data from the Nebraska Department of Education and its most recent State of the Schools Report (2010).  What you are about to read is official information.

Today we focus on science -- another area in which U.S. students need more work.

5th Grade Science Percentage Proficient

Crete -- 98.15% 
Milford -- 87.76%
Dorchester -- 82.35%                                   
Friend -- Not Reporting
Wilber -- Not Reporting

11th Grade Science Percentage Proficient

Dorchester -- 88.24%     
Crete -- 87.62% 
Friend -- 86.21%              
Wilber -- 86.49%
Milford -- Not Reporting

Monday, September 24, 2012


Consider that roughly 65 cents of every dollar you pay in property tax goes to your local Nebraska school district.  That's a big bill.  Since those dollars are supposed to be investments in our children and our future, we expect impressive returns on our money.

This is part two in the Times' comparison of performance standards in our own school district to those of surrounding schools -- to see how our kids and our teachers are faring.  To gauge performance, we have utilized data from the Nebraska Department of Education and its most recent State of the Schools Report (2010).  What you are about to read is official information.

Today we focus on math -- an area in which U.S. students are lagging significantly.

Of our five area schools, DPS should always be in the top three in every category of study, we believe.  You can decide whether our students and school are meeting expectations and what areas may need immediate attention.

4th Grade Mathematics Percentage Proficient
Crete -- 98.23% 
Wilber -- 97.44%
Dorchester -- 94.12%     
Milford -- 90.20%                           
Friend -- Not Reporting

5th Grade Mathematics Percentage Proficient
Friend -- 91.30%
Milford -- 89.80%
Crete -- 82.24% 
Wilber -- 78.38%
Dorchester -- 75.00%   

7th Grade Mathematics Percentage Proficient
Milford -- 93.75%
Wilber -- 87.50%
Dorchester -- 84.62%
Friend -- 81.82%
Crete -- 80.45% 

11th Grade Mathematics Percentage Proficient
Wilber -- 94.59%
Dorchester -- 93.75%
Friend -- 86.21%
Milford -- 85.07%
Crete -- 83.18%                

Friday, September 21, 2012

Milford School Board Discusses Activities Merger With Dorchester

(UPDATE: DHS WAS FORCED TO FORFEIT FRIDAY'S FOOTBALL GAME AGAINST MEAD DUE TO TOO FEW PLAYERS AVAILABLE FOR PLAY.  DHS' small roster has lost two players recently to concussions.  The last time DHS forfeit a contest was in 1991, according to our research.)

The Milford Times reports on the Milford Public Schools school board meeting held last week. The newspaper notes that the MPS board held a "preliminary discussion about the possibility of a co-op with Dorchester for select sports. The co-op would not affect Milford substantially," MPS Superintendent Kevin Wingard said. 

The article continues: "Wingard said Dorchester approached the district with the possibility in order to give their students a chance to play sports. Dorchester’s extra curricular participants have started to decline to the point where they are unsure if certain sports can continue.

"Wingard said the co-op would be a positive thing for Milford, as well, due to shrinking numbers in football to the point where J.V. games have been cancelled in the last two years."

The newspaper reported that there will be more discussion on the co-op at the MPS board’s October 8 meeting.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

SCHOOL REPORT CARD: How DPS Stacks Up To Its Neighbors In Reading Ability

The Dorchester Times staff believes in accountability at all levels.  We expect solid efforts and results from ourselves, our news media, our public officials, our public employees, and all our fellow citizens.

We are especially adamant that schools -- teachers and administrators -- be held accountable.

Consider that roughly 65 cents of every dollar you pay in property tax goes to your local Nebraska school district.  That's a big bill.  Since those dollars are supposed to be investments in our children and our future, we expect impressive returns on our money. 

This week, the Times is comparing the performance of our own school district to surrounding schools, to see how our kids and our teachers are faring.  To gauge performance, we have utilized data from the Nebraska Department of Education and its most recent State of the Schools Report.  What you are about to read is official information. 

Today we focus on reading ability.

Of our five area schools, DPS should always be in the top three in every category of study, we believe.  We will let you decide whether our students and school are meeting expectations -- and what areas may need immediate attention. 

3rd Grade Reading Percentage of Student Meeting or Exceeding Standards
Milford -- 68.52%
Crete -- 61.48% 
Dorchester -- 61.12%
Wilber -- 58.53%              
Friend -- 40.00%                             

4th Grade Reading Percentage of Student Meeting or Exceeding Standards
Dorchester -- 82.36%     
Milford -- 78.43%
Crete -- 75.00% 
Friend -- 72.00%              
Wilber -- 37.50%

5th Grade Reading Percentage of Student Meeting or Exceeding Standards

Milford -- 85.71%
Crete -- 69.52% 
Dorchester -- 68.75%     
Friend -- 52.18%              
Wilber -- 48.65%

8th Grade Reading Percentage of Student Meeting or Exceeding Standards

Dorchester -- 90.00%
Milford -- 83.34%
Friend -- 75.00%
Crete -- 66.97%
Wilber -- 51.16%

11th Grade Reading Percentage of Student Meeting or Exceeding Standards

Milford -- 78.47%
Crete -- 75.76% 
Friend -- 72.41%              
Wilber -- 67.57%              
Dorchester -- 56.25%

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Get Your Official Dorchester Apparel Today

Want to show support for your school and hometown? Now you can get your official Dorchester Longhorn apparel online. 

The Dorchester Public Schools website features a direct link to Cricket Sports, a customized sports apparel and promotional products supplier and a privately held company located in Lincoln.

Longhorn shirts, sweatshirts, ball caps -- it's all there.
According to the Cricket Sports site, the company has over 25 years of experience in the industry, and an experienced staff to ensure that every order meets the highest standards.

If you'd like to order your official DHS gear or just browse, see the site by clicking here.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Times Readers Overwhelmingly Support Activities Merger With Milford

A new Dorchester Times survey shows nearly two-thirds (63%) of respondents approve of the Dorchester School Board's plans to merge certain athletic activities, most notably football, with Milford junior and senior high schools.

The Times poll, which sampled 79 readers over three weeks, revealed about 25% would prefer merging activities with Friend, while 11% were undecided.

Over the past decade, Dorchester High and Junior High have experienced a significant decline in the number of students who participate in athletics and other school activities. This falloff has also been seen in many other smaller and mid-sized schools around the state.

The Times has learned that Dorchester will appeal a Nebraska School Activities Association (NSAA) ruling that would prohibit the DHS from combining with MHS next season for football.  Regardless of the NSAA's decision, it appears the merger will go into effect for junior high football next year once both school boards have given their approval. 

The merger will be conducted on a two-year trial basis, according to insiders.

It is still unclear what other student activities might be impacted, such as basketball, volleyball, softball, and track. It's also unclear whether the merger would apply to student clubs, such as FFA, drama, FBLA, etc.

As we reported earlier, 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.   This season, the DHS football team has been reduced to a 10-man roster due to injuries.

Milford is a class C-1 school in team sports. Merging with a D-2 school like Dorchester would not impact Milford's C-1 status, judging by the numbers needed for Class B attainment.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Village Begins Clean-Up Initiative

Many in Dorchester already know the story, but we decided that the village's new clean-up initiative deserves to be reported by the Times.

The latest issue of the Southeast Nebraska Development District (SENDD) newsletter reports, "The Village of Dorchester has kicked off a new 'Nusiance Abatement Program' to encourage residents to clean up their properties. Dorchester officials are working with SENDD to help identify and notify resident of potential violations. The goal is to build community pride within Dorchester."

One community leader, who was once part of the Dorchester Times staff, said this initiative was "long overdue."  In an e-mail, he told the Times that since the late 1990s, Dorchester had turned a "blind eye to a small handful of property owners or renters" whose yards and homes "look like the county dump." (Those are his words, not ours.)  He wrote that the new notification program is a "clear shot over the bow" for those few residents "who refuse to uphold community standards and in the process bring down the entire town."

"There are more responsibilities to property ownership in a town than just paying the taxes," this individual e-mailed the Times.  "Just because you pay your property taxes doesn't mean you can live like Fred Sanford. Residents who don't want to clean up can always move to the countryside."

The SENDD story continues: "The first area of town to be assessed is (the area between) 7th Street to 11th Street and Washington Ave. to West Line."  The owners of properties requiring clean-up "will be notified by a certified courtesy letter from SENDD." 

"Residents in all areas of town are encouraged to keep their properties maintained," the story notes.  "Common concerns include unlicensed vehicles (including yard and boat trailers), auto parts, dead trees, brush, lumber and trash."

The village board will review properties with continued nuisance concerns at their regular board meeting in early October.  "For those properties not cleared, formal action may be taken and the property could be declared a nuisance by the board.  SENDD is the designated nuisance officer for this project."

One village leader, a business owner, told us that he agrees with the clean-up effort being conducted by village officials.  He added that he hopes people don't forget all of the improvements that have been made across town, including the main street electronic marquee, upgrades made to the city park, and repairs of the buildings along main street.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

FINALLY! Dorchester Area Receives More Than 1 Inch Of Rain

The rain came.  Finally.

We at the Times were a week late with our prediction -- but even our now-jobless grass eating dogs knew that sooner or later the skies had to open.  (Rest assured, we have hired grass eating cats to recalibrate our high-tech weather forecasting capabilities.)

Here is a look at the rainfall totals in the Saline County area following last night's precipitation:

Western -- 2.19"
Wilber -- 2.09"
DeWitt -- 1.82"
Tobias -- 1.46"
Milford -- 1.42"
Dorchester -- 1.14"
Friend -- 0.93"

For the record, Dorchester's last rainfall over 0.25" came on June 14.

The weekend forecast calls for mostly sunny conditions, with highs around the 77-80 degrees through Monday.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Suggestion Box: Recommendations For The Village Board

This is the second part of our "Suggestion Box" series, providing Times readers the opportunity to submit comments and questions for elected officials serving on the Dorchester Village Board.  (Click here to see the suggestions for the school board.)

Questions and suggestions may address a variety of issues, ranging from topics such as economic development, streets and infrastructure, housing, water fees, garbage disposal, 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 village board members, like other local leaders, are volunteers.  They don't get paid.  Seldom do they hear "thank you." Respect them and their willingness to be a public servant.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Danielson Passes At Age 83

Over the weekend, Hubert K. "Danny" Danielson II, age 83, passed away.  Although he had been residing in Wilber, Danielson was a longtime member of the Dorchester community.  He passed away Friday, September 7.

Born January 23, 1929 to Hubert K. and Josephine P. (Mitchell) Danielson, he was a member Dorchester American Legion.

Danielson's survivors include his sons and daughters-in-law: Hubert, III and Tracy of Dorchester, Kendall and Dung of Crete, David and Deb of Lawrence, Kan.; sister: Claudia Domant of Lincoln; numerous grandchildren; great grandchildren; nieces, and nephews. Danielson was preceded in death by his parents, wife, Wanda, grandson, Hub, and sisters (Josephine, Dorothy, Betty, and Georgia Ann).

Funeral services will be tomorrow (Tuesday) at 10:30 a.m. at Kuncl Funeral Home, Crete. Rev. Roger Wolfe will be officiating. Visitation is tonight, 5:30-9 p.m., at the funeral home. Interment will be at Riverside Cemetary.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Manufacturing Can Bring Back Dorchester's Business Community

In a recent Dorchester Times survey, nearly one-third of readers said local leaders must prioritize the revitalization of our Main Street business community.

Is that possible? Can it happen here?

We think it can. But we need to do it wisely, with long-term goals and a sustainable plan. No offense, but a DVD rental store isn't going to cut it. And we don't see an Apple store eyeing our empty storefronts.

Agriculture and manufacturing our the backbone industries of the Midwest and rural America. They made America the power she was in the 20th century -- and they will fuel our economy throughout the 21st century, as well.

Traditional manufacturing is the ultimate value-added activity.  Also, it plays into the strength of our area's workforce and labor skills.

For a local example of manufacturing's economic benefits, look to our own Tyser Welding and Repair, Dorchester's longest-standing multi-generational business.  Or look to Friend, home of Tuttle Inc., which produces conveyors, automation systems, piping, guards, catwalks, platforms, stairs and support structures.  Tuttle Manufacturing employs upwards around 49 area residents, we are told.  (That number would likely be higher if it were not for the Obama health care mandate that Senator Ben Nelson voted for, we are also told.  What a shame.)

We endorse manufacturing as an answer to rebuilding our business community for three reasons:

1.) Manufacturing allows for the most sustainable start-ups.  A one- or two-man shop can make it big, especially with the Dorchester area being home to large farms and the Farmers Cooperative.

2.) Manufacturing is extremely diverse.  There's no reason Dorchester's Main Street cannot support five or six manufacturing businesses, each specializing in a different niche. 

3.) Manufacturing jobs are good jobs.  They pay well, provide good benefits, and manufacturing workers are less likely to quit than workers in other private sector industries.  On average, hourly wages and salaries for manufacturing jobs were $29.75 an hour in 2010.  Total hourly compensation, which includes employer-provided benefits, was $38.27 for workers in manufacturing.

If Dorchester really wants to revitalize its business community and Main Street, we must encourage our young people, skilled laborers, and retirees to consider owning their own manufacturing businesses.  (For a list of very achievable manufacturing ideas, click here.)

Perhaps our village government could offer incentives, such as low rent or property tax breaks.  It's time to get the discussion going and produce a plan for action.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Prediction: Dorchester Will Receive Significant Rainfall Thursday P.M.

Our weather forecast:  The Dorchester area will get some drought relief Thursday evening into Friday morning.

We're calling it. Mark it down.  This despite the fact Dorchester and most of Saline County have not received measurable precipitation since June 20.  (For Dorchester, the last rainfall better than 0.25" came on June 14.)

The "experts" known as meteorologists are predicting that tomorrow (Thursday) night will bring a 50% chance of thunderstorms, followed by a lingering 30% chance into Friday morning. 

But here in our underground bunker, the Dorchester Times' high-tech forecasting equipment -- which relies on a combination of the Farmers Almanac, wind speed and direction, humidity level, hurricanes present in the Atlantic, and dogs eating grass -- almost guarantees a significant amount of rain will fall tomorrow night after sunset.  Look for it to come around 8:00 p.m. to 10 p.m.

And if we're wrong, we promise to refund all our readers exactly what they paid for their Dorchester Times subscription.

(UPDATE: We give up on rain ever falling again in Saline County.  And we have fired our grass-eating dogs from their weather forecasting jobs.)

Local Feed Yard Family Profiled By Farm Bureau

In a special series called "Get to know your Nebraska farmers," Dorchester's Joel and Amy Weber, along with their children, were recently profiled by the Farm Bureau.

The Farm Bureau blog reports, "For Weber Feed Yards LLC owner and Saline County Farm Bureau member Joel Weber, doing it the right way is job one. A 4th generation farmer/feeder from Dorchester, Joel went off to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and graduated in 1995 with an agribusiness degree, then went right back to the farm. His father is semi-retired which leaves Joel to manage the 4,500 head of cattle and farm ground on his own. Ninety percent of the crops they raise go to feed the cattle."
The blog goes on to say that the "niche market Joel has found is with age and source verified cattle. The farm has stringent record-keeping rules because most of the beef he raises is for export to Japan. All the cattle have papers with their date of birth and ranch of origin. In the early 2000s, the Weber feed yard started dabbling in age and source verification until they learned more about the needs and wants of the end-user in Japan. They fully adapted to that protocol by 2004."

Joel’s wife, Amy, teaches Math at Meridian Schools and the couple has three children:  Christian, 8; Jacob, 6; and Sophia, 3.
See the blog story by clicking here.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Sept. 16 Is Dorchester Church Auction, BBQ

Save the date, Dorchester area residents.

On Sunday, September 16, 2012, the Dorchester United Methodist Church will hold its annual BBQ and auction. 

This special event always attracts large numbers from Dorchester and the surrounding countryside.

September's event will mark the 25th year for the annual auction.

All Dorchester area residents are strongly encouraged to join the fun “under the tent” south of the church building.

Lunch will be served 11 a.m. until 1 p.m., when the auction will begin.

For a full listing of auction items, go to

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Crete ATA Martial Arts Gets Its Punch From DHS Grads

As some of our readers know, Dorchester resident and 1980 DHS graduate Jack Cochnar owns and operates the Crete ATA Martial Arts Academy.  His entire family, as well as several other Dorchester residents, are members at Crete ATA (American Taekwondo Association).  

Crete ATA asked the Times to devout some space to this area business and we agreed.  It's a good story that may inspire other DHS grads to start their own business.

Jack and Michael Cochnar, a 2006 DHS grad), are both Fifth Degree black belts.  Michael works for ATA HQ in Los Angeles, Ca., as the organization's media editor.  Alyssa, a current DHS senior, just earned her Fourth Degree black belt and is ranked in the top ten in the world in four divisions again this year.  Her specialty areas are in Xtreme and Creative Martial Arts.  She teaches five nights a week at the Crete ATA.  Valerie, a 2009 DHS grad, along with Nathan (a sixth grader at DPS), and Suzy are all Third Degree black belts.

Crete ATA offers traditional taekwondo, safety weapons training, leadership classes, demonstration team, Xtreme martial arts, Tumbling and Acro classes, Fitness Kickboxing/Warrior X-Fit, etc.  The academy has an Xtreme demo team that has competed nationally the past three years, in front of audiences as large as 11,000. 
The benefits of martial arts training include increased self-confidence, respect of others, discipline, leadership skills, self-defense and safety awareness, to name a few.  All classes at the Crete ATA are taught by nationally certified instructors.   

Martial arts is something the entire family can enjoy together.  Crete ATA has students as young as 3 in Parent & Me classes (both in taekwondo and tumbling), as well as children and adults of all ages training.  

Crete ATA also has five instructors who just became certified this summer as bullying prevention specialists.  Crete ATA also supports a team each spring that participates in the Doane College/Saline County Relay for Life.

For information on Crete ATA Martial Arts, call Suzy Cochnar at (402) 641-7592 or (402) 826-4555.