Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Dorchester's Spooky Spots

For years -- beginning back in 2007 -- the Times has showcased reports from other websites that claim Dorchester is home to haunted places.  We have always been skeptical, but since Halloween is here, here is an update on the latest reports about Dorchester's spooky spots.

Dorchester School Boiler Room:  Without a doubt, we can confirm that the boiler room of the 1927 Dorchester School building is no longer haunted, if it ever was.  The old school building was razed in mid-2008 to make room for the current DPS campus.  But when it existed, there were reports that in the late 1920s, a child "locked himself in the boiler room and died." According to several websites, school janitors in the modern era sometimes heard yells coming from the boiler room during the night -- and "when they went down into the boiler room, they didn't find anyone."

Gilbert's Graveyard:  The most famous of the Dorchester areas "haunted places," Gilbert's Graveyard continues to draw attention from inside and outside Saline County.  One of the latest reports on the old cemetery comes from a website called  "Hauntings," which features a "pre-haunt interview with the locals" in Dorchester.  The site recounts some of the history behind Gilbert's Graveyard and its namesake, using historical accounts published by the Dorchester Times and the 1981 Dorchester Centennial book.  As Hauntings reports, "a number of strange events have been reported here. Among them, strange noises and the movement of tombstones. ... Sadly, this location has been host to vandalism and disrespect for the dead. If you plan to visit this location, think on how you would want your remains and the stone markers of your final resting place treated."

The Hauntings website also features firsthand accounts from those who have visited the cemetery.  One visitor, named Chris, wrote: "The first trip we had made (to Gilbert's Graveyard) I ended up in tears; just the feeling of being there was enough to make you sick. We started to drive through the graveyard, and someone pointed at a tree that was knocked down over a grave, and when I looked over there I saw a black fog coming up from the grave, we decided to leave. As we left the graveyard, we looked over to the graveyard and about 9-plus flashing lights came up from the graveyard and seemed to follow us.  I was the driver and I looked in my rear view mirror to be horrified to see a older lady staring at me in the mirror, then scream and then i began to cry uncontrollably. I stepped on that gas and swore I would never return.  But consequently we did, and the second time it was more calmer then the first, not much happened except for hearing footsteps in the distant, and the feeling of you being followed closely."

Former "Squeaky Bridge":  According to GhostsOfAmerica.com, the site of the former ''squeaky bridge'' over Turkey Creek, south of Dorchester, is "extremely haunted" (County Rd. 1500 between county roads G and H). "According to legend several men were hanged on the bridge, which was closed and removed in the mid-1990s. However the ghosts still appear on a routine basis. They are transparent figures hanging by a noose right where the bridge once stood. Some have said the hanged men will occasionally look up and stare at observers."

Second Floor Above the Village Office:  According to GhostsOfAmerica.com, "there have been many reports of figures or shapes moving around in the second floor of the village office building."  The website claims to have a picture of the ghostly figure taken with a cell phone in 2009.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

List Of Properties Facing Nov. 4 Cleanup Deadline

Our Oct. 18 story on how to handle negligent property owners created quite an stir, due mostly to the accompanying pictures of homes whose owners have received cleanup notices from the Dorchester Village Board. 

We removed the photos within 24 hours of the story's posting based on a collective decision by the Times staff.  But we believe this issue is critical to the future of Dorchester and  it deserves our readers' attention.  Also, we strongly support the actions of the Village Board and believe the actions are serving as a model for other smaller communities to follow.

Next week will be an important one in the process of Dorchester's property cleanup.  The Village Board voted Oct. 1 to declare several properties in town as nuisances, giving owners a month to improve their properties to meet the community standards.  The deadline for this action is Nov. 4.  

Next Monday, Nov. 5, the board will meet again and determine what actions to take to address those properties that have not been cleaned up adequately.

Because we believe the entire community should be involved in this process -- and that the town's quality of life is at stake -- we have decided to publish the list of properties that have received a cleanup notice and are required to meet the Nov. 4 deadline.  (Why are we doing this? See our June 2007 editorial, "Want Cleaner Neighbors? Try Peer Pressure.")

Please note that this information is already public and was included in the Village Board minutes.


1012 Jefferson
1008 Jefferson
1002 Jefferson
1009 Franklin
306 West 10th
1009 Jefferson
1009 Stephens
604 West 9th
913 Stephens
912 Stephens
208 West 9th
803 Washington
813 Franklin
809 Jefferson
600 West 9th
605 West 9th
703 Stephens - Lot 5
712 Stephens
713 Jefferson
705 Washington N 1/2

Friday, October 26, 2012

OPEN FORUM: Autumn 2012

It's time once again for our open forum section for Times readers.

Got a complaint? A compliment? Breaking news? An announcement? A general thought? Here is the place to let everyone know.

Any topic is fair game, although the Times' comment policy still applies. (Please see the left-hand column -- and please keep it classy, dear readers.)

The Dorchester Times' website is averaging between 300 and 400 unique visits a day, according to e-Blogger's tracking service.

That means the Times is the perfect forum to air your thoughts, news tips, announcements, complaints and concerns.

So go ahead and sound off.   We are listening -- and so are others in the community.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Election 2012: Our Local Endorsements

Election 2012 is only days away and it is time for our endorsements of the candidates who are running for office in Dorchester.
For the three open positions on the Dorchester Public School Board of Education, the Times is endorsing:
  • Mark Bors
  • Brad Havlat
  • Lindsey Zoubek
Our choice here was made easy for two reasons: These three upstanding citizens are school board veterans.  And both are serving because they care deeply about our school and kids.  Bors, Havlat and Zoubek volunteer their time in an era when small communities across America are suffering from a "leadership void." We have seen real improvements at the school, as reflected in our recent series examining the test results of DPS students compared to other local schools. These board members receive no financial compensation, but they do deserve our gratitude, our respect, and our vote.
For the two open spots on the Dorchester Village Board, the Times is endorsing:
  • Brandon Koll
  • Lyle Weber
We are lucky to have experienced village board members who are again volunteering to do a job (with no compensation) that few people are willing or able to do.  Both men have served Dorchester well in their first term, putting in extra hours on projects and efforts to improve the community and its quality of life.  We commend both Weber and Koll for demonstrating strong leadership on the village clean-up efforts, as well as working to begin to improve Dorchester's streets and infrastructure.  We believe their dedication and efforts are paying good dividends for the town and its residents.
Be sure to vote on November 6!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Common-Sense Tips On Addressing Negligent Property Owners

Over the past few months, several Dorchester Times readers have expressed their opinion regarding the village's crackdown on blighted properties. 
Personally, we at the Times think the village action was long overdue.  While every property owner has certain rights, he/she doesn't have the right to drag down your home's value or create a health hazzard for your family.  With all the properties on the market today, why would someone want to deal with messy neighbors when they could get a house in a neighborhood without the eyesores? That is a question that small communities like ours must ask.
Recently, eHow -- the online self-help site -- published a list of ways to get negligent property owners to own up to their responsibilities, without resorting to legal action or waiting for your city officials to impose.  Their suggestions:
1.) Start with a direct approach. If the owner is living on the property, you can approach the owner and voice your concerns in a calm manner. If the owner does not live on the property, try your best to make contact with the person over the phone about the issue.
2.) Ensure that the person really is the property owner. If the person on the property is actually just a tenant, you have another step before going to authorities. Find out who is renting out the property and contact that person. You can do this through your county's property tax assessor's office. Once you have this information, send a letter to the landlord, including pictures of the negligence for added effect.
3.) Complain to the lender of the property if it is in a foreclosed state. Do not settle for a customer service representative on this one. Make sure you speak with management, and go all the way up to the chief executive officer if that is what it takes. If this isn't giving you fast enough results, go to your state's governmental website and find the state mortgage regulator. Contact the regulator.
4.) Contact your local government officials. Find the number for your local public health department and call the office to explain what is going on. Make sure to take note of all sanitation and safety issues involving the property.
5.)  If you must contact a lawyer, a real estate attorney would be best for this. You may be able to sue the owner of the property. Remember that these cases can drag on and be expensive, so this step should only be used as a last resort.
See the full eHow article here.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Flu Shots Available In Dorchester, Oct. 30

Cold and flu season is here and it's time to take precautionary measures to reduce your chances of getting ill.

Community flu shots will be given in Dorchester on Tuesday, Oct. 30, from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Dorchester Methodist Church. Cost is $20 per shot for anyone 13 years or older.

Please wear short sleeves for easier administration.

The flu immunization shots will be provided by the Crete Area Medical Center.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Joe's Place Plans Halloween Party, Oct. 26

If you're 21 or older, Halloween can still be fun -- even if you are too old for trick-or-treating.

Next Friday, Oct. 26, Dorchester's main street will feature a "spooktacular" Halloween Party at the regionally famous Joe's Place.

The party will be complete with a costume party and drink specials, as well as plenty of fun events.

For more information, call Joe's Place at (402) 946-2171.

In the meantime, find the perfect costume and plan on spending Oct. 26 in Dorchester.

For some adult costume ideas that are trendy this year on the East Cost (some less appropriate than others), click here.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Halloween Party At Tabor Hall, Oct. 28

Get ready for fun as you're invited to the fifth annual Halloween party and bike giveaway at Tabor Hall, Sunday, Oct. 28, from 2-4 p.m. 

WFLA Tabor Lodge #74 invites all member and non-member families with kids 0-12 (or through Grade 6) to join the activities at this spooky gathering.  There will be lots of games, crafts and fun events -- and be sure to wear your costume!

There is no charge to attend the party, but you are urged to bring a donation of canned food or cash for the local food bank.

Snacks and drink will be provided.  Also, there will be soda and other beverages available for purchase.

If you'd like to help arrange the event, or if you have questions, call Laura Sysel at (402) 580-8533 or e-mail craftsnoopy@diodecom.net.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

It's Official: Dorchester-Milford Sports Merger OK'd By Milford School Board

The Times has learned that the Milford School Public Schools Board has approved a sports co-op with Dorchester Public Schools that could start as early as next year. The Milfod board approved the sports merger during its meeting this week.

The Milford Times reports on this development, noting that Milford Superintendent Kevin Wingard said: "(Dorchester) wants their kids to be able to participate (in activities) and they’re afraid they won’t be able to do it on their own."

The Milford board approved a two-year junior high football merger with DPS starting next season, a two-year varsity wrestling co-op beginning in the same year, and a two-year football coop beginning with the 2014-2015 season if projected combined enrollment numbers fall in the Class C-1 range. “The third motion made it clear that if we’re ever in danger of moving to Class B in football the coop would be over immediately,” Wingard said. “We’re not going to be able to make a move to Class B.”

The sports merger is currently going to include junior high football, varsity high school wrestling and high school football, but could include other sports and activities down the road, Wingard said.  He said the schools cannot start the football co-op until the 2014 season because of the way the Nebraska School Activities Association schedules football two years in advance. However, Wingard said an appeal will be made in hopes that football players coming from Dorchester would be able to play next season.

If the appeal is denied, Wingard said there are other alternatives to get the Dorchester athletes on the field, but those will have to be discussed at a later date, he said.  Wingard said the co-op could be utilized for other activities in addition to sports.  “We’re not sure where it’s going but we know these are on a two-year trial,” he said.

Friday, October 5, 2012

OUR OPINION: DHS Football Merger Needed Now

The proposed merger of DHS' football program with Milford is a no-brainer.  That is not easy for us to admit.

Most of the staff at the Dorchester Times are DHS parents and/or former DHS athletes, ourselves.

It pains us to even think of any team other than our beloved orange-and-black Longhorns representing our school on a fall Friday night.  But the DHS football program has entered a difficult era as the team's performance and morale are being hindered by small classes and a low student participation rate.

Just two weeks ago, the Longhorns were forced to forfeit a game due to injuries reducing an already small roster.

DHS (0-5 and facing Parkview Christian tonight at home) is weathering a cycle in which younger players -- freshmen and sophomores -- don't want to participate for fear they will be forced to play an entire game against stronger, bigger juniors and seniors.  Who can blame them? Football can be a bruising, unforgiving game.

As of this afternoon, with nearly 80 votes in our online poll, three-quarters of readers support the athletics co-op with Milford Junior High and Milford High School.  While none of our staffers vote in the Times' online poll, we agree with the majority.  We think the merger needs to happen.  Right away.  Starting next season.  Other sports, including girls athletics, may need to follow in coming years.  But for now, the football co-op should go forward.

Here's why: Consolidating football with Milford will give young Dorchester players a chance to play at a high level, but against competition their own age and skill level.  This will afford Dorchester kids the chance to learn the game at their own pace, while making friends in a thriving nearby community.

Merging football with Friend should have been a viable option.  But bad blood between certain parties from both towns prevented that from ever being a possibility.  Milford officials, on the other hand, seem to welcome Dorchester with open arms and open minds.  The merger will be on a two-year trial basis, which gives us a higher level of comfort.

If Dorchester's young football players are to again experience success on the gridiron and the life lessons that come with athletic participation, DHS and its football program need to take advantage of this opportunity to combine football squads -- as hard as it will be on our community ego.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Dorchester's Farmers Cooperative Among Nation's Largest

With strong leadership dating back to manager Jerry Johnson in the early 1980s, Dorchester's farmer-owned cooperative has been a longtime leader in Nebraska.  Now, with manager Ron Velder at the helm, the co-op is being recognized as one of the biggest and best in the nation.

The Lincoln Journal Star reports that from 2007 through 2011, the nation's 100 largest agricultural cooperatives increased revenues by $88 billion.  The story notes that 10 Nebraska cooperatives made the USDA's most recent list of the largest 100 ag co-ops.  

"The biggest of the big in the state are two Omaha-based outlets, Ag Processors, No. 5 nationally, and Producers Livestock Marketing, No. 25.  ... Frontier Co-op in Brainard, population 330, had 2011 revenues of $389 million. Farmers Cooperative in Dorchester, population 586, weighed in at $716 million. Ag Valley Cooperative in Edison, population 133, hit $369 million."

No. 44 Farmers Cooperatives saw 19% growth from 2010 to 2011, with revenues of $716 million last year versus $602 million in 2010. 

Dorchester's Farmers Cooperative is a full service cooperative with products and services offered in Energy, Grain, Feed, Agronomy, and TBA departments. The corporate office is in Dorchester, and facilities are located in 35 other communities, at last check.

To read the article, click here.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Dorchester: We Are Not Alone

Over the years, the staff of the Dorchester Times has wondered: Just how many Dorchesters can there be in the world?

Today, we thought we would finally find out.

According to our extensive research, there are exactly 10 Dorchesters on this lovely planet. How do we stack up to the others in terms of population? About right in the middle.

The largest two Dorchesters are the best known:  1.) The suburb of Boston, Mass.; and 2.) the historic market town in southern England, which is believed to be the namesake of our beloved community.

According to SearchDictionaries.com, there is another Dorchester in England: Dorchester-on-Thames is a village and civil parish on the River Thame in Oxfordshire. 

Outside of Massachusetts and the U.K., there are six other Dorchesters besides our own:
  • A village in Clark and Marathon counties in Wisconsin. The population was 827 at the 2000 census.
  • A Canadian village and shire town in Westmorland County, New Brunswick.
  • A town in Grafton County, New Hampshire. The population was 355 at the 2010 census.
  • An unincorporated community in northwestern Allamakee County, Iowa.
  • A town in Grayson County, Texas. The population was 109 at the 2000 census.
  • A town in South Carolina, abandoned in 1751.
So now we can confirm that Dorchester is a unique bird,indeed, no matter which Dorchester you call home.  And while we're certain that all are lovely, we still think our Dorchester is best.