Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Smile, Crooks And Vandals! You're On Camera

Our area of the country has always been known for its brand of frontier justice.  That continues even into the 21st century.

KRVN radio is reporting this morning that in Lexington, Neb., the local police department is investigating vandalism to the front glass entrance to the Lexington Senior High School.  The incident occurred early Saturday morning, as the vehicle and individuals were caught on surveillance footage while committing the crime.  

We thought this was worth noting since many Dorchester homes, businesses and our K-12 school have installed cameras over the last few years.  More and more often, we are hearing of Dorchester residents who have cameras watching over their property.  We know of at least 15 homes in Dorchester's village limits that have electronic surveillance.

Even several homes in the countryside have cameras monitoring the premises 24-7.

The message to trouble makers and thieves: Smile. Chances are good that you are on camera!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Milford-Dorchester Football Team Heads To State

As most readers know, this football season marks the first time in more than 60 years that Dorchester High School has not had its own football team due to low numbers of participants.  But the rebuilding process is already underway as DHS this school year started a trial co-operative with Milford High School for both junior high and high school football.  

The Times has learned that the Miford-Dorchester Eagles have qualified for Nebraska's Class C-1 State Playoffs in their first year of existence. The team will play Lincoln Christinan this Thursday, Oct. 31 at 7 p.m. at Seacrest Field in Lincoln.  

This is a noteworthy accomplishment for the boys from both schools.  The team's future appears quite bright, considering the young talent on the team, as well as the strong numbers coming up through junior high.

The news of the Milford-Dorchester team making it to state reminded us what one DHS parent e-mailed the Times just before the start of the season:  "Dorchester can have a proud football culture once again," he said.  "But we need to take advantage of this merger with Milford to get our kids interested in playing the game, regardless if those kids come from town, the farm, from single-parent households, from low-income homes ... whatever.  We want to rebuild the idea of team and get these boys to work for something bigger than themselves.  Football can teach that but the community must get behind our efforts."

Congratulations to the Milford-Dorchester squad!

Tales Linger Of Dorchester's Haunted Places

For years -- beginning back in 2007 -- the Times has showcased reports claiming that Dorchester is home to haunted places.  We have always been skeptical, but since Halloween is fast approaching, 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 the old stories, 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, 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, "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.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Tabor Hall Halloween Party For Kids, Oct. 27

Hey kids! Get ready for some spooky fun. You are invited to the sixth annual Halloween party and bike giveaway at Tabor Hall, Sunday, Oct. 27, 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. (That includes you adults, if you dare.)

There will be 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  See you Oct. 27!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

DHS Yearbooks Now Online

More than six decades of Dorchester Public School history is now online -- so you can relive your glory days whenever you wish and wherever you are.

The project has been a joint effort of Dorchester Public School and the DHS Alumni Association.  

All the annuals/yearbooks in the possession of the Alumni Association are on the DPS website. 

Here is how you use the site:
  1. Visit the Dorchester School home page (  
  2. On the left side of the page, scroll to the bottom of the list and click on "Alumni Center."
  3. When you are prompted for the username, enter "dorchester".  For the password, enter "longhorns".  Use lowercase letters.  Then click continue.  
This was a huge undertaking -- and expensive, from what we have been told.  Pictured above is the DPS lobby just outside the gym. This TV is connected to an Apple iPad, which has access to all the DPS yearbooks from 1949 till 2012.

For those who don't have computer access, you are welcome to visit the school and use the online library there.  A special thanks to the Superintendent Mitch Kubicek and longtime DHS Alumni Association volunteer Tom Schefert for getting this project off the ground.  

Also, take a look at Dorchester School's new Facebook page at  

DPS educator Mr. Dohmen has taken on the Facebook project so that parents and alumni can see what’s going on at DPS in the present.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Crete Businessman Gets Jail Time For Not Paying Taxes

The Lincoln Journal Star is reporting that a Crete businessman has been sentenced to six months in federal prison for failing to turn over to the government withheld federal income and FICA taxes.

Here's what the Journal Star is saying:  "John Stanley Clabaugh Jr., 69, of Lincoln, ran Clabaugh Agency Inc., an insurance agency, out of Crete. He had one full-time employee, a secretary and  occasional part-time employees, according to an announcement from U.S. Attorney Deborah R. Gilg.  He withheld money from his and his employees’ salaries for  taxes but stopped paying it to the IRS in 2001, Gilg said. The total withheld from paychecks for the time covered by the indictment was $135,330."

Clabaugh was ordered Monday to pay nearly $136,000 in restitution. After he's finished serving time in prison, Clabaugh will have to serve six months of home confinement and three years of supervised release.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Dorchester Apparel To Represent Your Hobby, Occupation

Here at the Dorchester Times, we have always tried to show support for our school and community by wearing Dorchester-themed apparel.

Lots of it!  

You can never have too many Longhorn shirts, sweatshirts or caps, according to one member of the Times staff.

Fortunately for Dorchester residents and Dorchester fans all over the country, there are many options for getting your official Dorchester apparel online.

Of course, not everyone wants to focus on athletics only.  

One particular online apparel outlet we've found, Prep Sportswear, even features personalized apparel for your favorite Dorchester area farmer -- or fisherman -- or runner -- or surfer.  (Yes, you read that correctly. Surfers included.)

You name the activity, you can get it on the cap, shirt or shorts of your choice.  

Now there's no excuse for not showing off your Dorchester pride at every turn.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Dorchester's Helen Conkling Passes Oct. 15

Dorchester's Helen L. Conkling, 94, passed away on Tuesday, Oct. 15, at Tabitha in Crete.  Born May 15, 1919 to James and Mabel (Busselman) Formanek.

Survivors include: daughters and son-in-law, Joyce Dolezal, Dona and Jim Heeren, MaryLou Struebing; eight grandchildren; 31 great grandchildren; seven great-great grandchildren; brother, James Formanek, Sr.  

Helen was preceded in death by her husband, Donald; parents; sister, Beulah Howlett; brother, Harold Formanek; sons-in-law, Ron Dolezal, Sr., Harold Struebing.

Funeral service will be 10:30 a.m. Saturday at the Dorchester United Methodist Church. Interment will follow at the Dorchester Cemetery.  

Memorials have been designated to the Dorchester American Legion Auxiliary.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Help Dorchester Water Tank Win National Contest

It's time to show your Dorchester pride -- no matter where you are in the world!

Dorchester's new, modern and sleek water tank -- with its innovative community logo -- has been nominated to be featured in a national calendar published by Tnemec, a company that makes high performance industrial coatings.

The 12 tanks with the highest number of votes in the online selection process will each be assigned a featured month in Tnemec’s 2014 water tank calendar. 

The January tank will be recognized as the Tank of the Year.

Anyone can vote in the online competition. Just go to

Or simply click here.

Only six Nebraska water tanks are among the 200 entries, including tanks in Bertrand, Creighton, Dorchester, Lincoln, Lyman and Randolph.

UPDATE:  Currently, only about 10 other tanks (out of 200 across the U.S.) are ahead of Dorchester in the vote count. With your help, Dorchester's new water town can make history -- or at the very least, the 2014 calendar.

Online voting will continue through Friday. So vote right now -- and be sure to get all your friends and family members to cast their vote for Dorchester's new tower.

The Tank of the Year will be announced in early November.

Happy 80th Birthday To Dorchester's Charles Bolton

Here is a belated "happy birthday" to Dorchester's Charles Bolton.

Bolton turned 80 last month.

We spotted the birthday wishes in last Sunday's insert in the Lincoln Journal Star.

The birthday greetings read: "Charles has touched many lives. A.k.a. ... Chuck, Charles, Doc, Charlie, Uncle Chuck, Coach, Mr. Bolton, Dad, Poppa Chuck, Grandpa and Great-Grandpa."

Birthday greetings may be sent to 497 County Road 1400, Dorchester, NE 68343.

The greeting was submitted by Charles' wife Kathryn and his children -- Charity, Mary, Chuck, Matt and Mike.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

DHS Volleyball Team Picks Up Another Win

At Thursday's Exeter-Milligan Triangular, the Dorchester volleyball team picked up yet another victory.

While the No. 9 Exeter-Milligan defeated the Longhorns 25-11, 25-13, the Lady 'Horns knocked off Cross County 25-16, 25-23.

Dorchester's young squad has shown signs of improvement throughout the season under their first-year head coach.

The DHS volleyball squad is 4-16 on the season.

The Lady 'Horns will be in action again this Tuesday at the McCool Junction Triangular.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Elimination Of Farmland Jobs Would Seriously Impact Area Economy

Most readers of the Dorchester Times are likely aware that Chinese meat processor Shuanghui International Holdings Ltd. this past spring purchased Smithfield Foods Inc. for about $4.72 billion.  The transaction has real implications for our area economy since Smithfield owns the Farmland Foods facility in Crete, which currently employs nearly 2,000 workers.

Smithfield CEO Larry Pope said in a May 2013 conference call: "This is not a strategy to import Chinese pork into the United States ... this is exporting America to the world."

But will the sale of Smithfield to the Chinese also mean America is exporting more of its manufacturing jobs overseas?

The Dorchester Times has heard, from multiple individuals in our area, that Shuanghui Holdings may eliminate at least half of the meat processing jobs in Crete -- bypassing local workers, opting instead to ship the frozen carcasses to China and do most of the post-slaughter finishing there.  Such a move would also eliminate some or most of the need for the cold storage facilities just to the north of the Farmland facility.

The Times has been unable to confirm whether the speculations we've heard are true.  As far as we know, the sale has not yet been finalized by federal regulators.  But if a majority of jobs at the Crete plant are cut, it will have a ripple effect on the Saline County economy -- impacting everything from the county's property tax base, to labor availability, to housing values and rental rates in the Crete/Wilber/Dorchester area, to the viability of retail and restaurants.

This is one development that's worth watching.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Longhorn Volleyball Team Spikes Parkview

The Dorchester High School Longhorn volleyball squad, in their season-long journey for constant improvement, picked up another victory Tuesday night.

The Dorchester volleyballers beat Lincoln's Parkview Christian, 21-25, 25-23, 25-13, 25-16.

DHS, which sports one of the youngest teams in Class D2, is 3-15 on the season, with a triangular coming up on Thursday at Exeter-Milligan. 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Holy Buckets! More Than 5" Of Rain Soak Parts Of Saline Co.

UPDATE: Thunderstorms ravaged our area late Oct. 3, as Dorchester and Saline County endured tornado, thunderstorm and flash flood warnings.  The Dorchester Times has all the rainfall totals for the Saline County area below.  In Dorchester, we've seen rainfall amounts in excess of 3" with some gauges showing 4".

At 9:53 p.m. Thursday, radar showed cells with dangerous rotation near Milligan. A possible tornado was spotted 8 miles west of Wilber around 10:20 p.m.

Earlier in the evening, storm spotters near Wilber confirmed baseball size hail as two small storm cells combined, merging into a massive and dangerous autumn storm, moving very slowly and causing wind damage and flooding.

Here are area precipitation totals over the past 48 hours:
  • 4 miles SSW of Dorchester -- 5.07"
  • 6 miles SSE of Milford -- 4.41"
  • 2 miles NW of Dorchester -- 4.04"
  • 3.5 miles E of Friend -- 4.00"
  • 4.5 miles NNE of Western -- 2.84"
  • 1.5 miles E of Tobias -- 2.77"
  • In DeWitt -- 2.00"
  • 1 mile SE of Western -- 1.86"
  • 1.8 miles W of Wilber -- 1.86"
  • 4.5 miles SSE of Dorchester -- 1.75"
See the area radar, forecast and warnings here.  See the severe damage caused by a tornado in the Bennet and Hickman areas here.

Stay tuned for the latest at the Dorchester Times.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Wilber Man Dies Due To West Nile

A Wilber man is Nebraska's first 2013 fatality caused by the West Nile Virus. The Times has learned that John Schintzel of Wilber died Saturday, Sept. 21, of West Nile Virus.  That was confirmed by officials last week.

The Crete News has reported that Fillmore, Jefferson, Gage, Saline and Thayer counties had six reported cases of West Nile two weeks ago.  

Since that time, Dorchester Times has learned of several area cases of suspected West Nile, with several of these individuals requiring hospitalization.

Schintzel become ill in early September and was hospitalized at Bryan West Campus on Sept. 11.  

Schintzel’s death underscores the importance of continuing preventive measures until the first frost, according to The Crete News story, which emphasizes measures such as wearing long sleeves and pants, using deet, and minimizing outdoor activities at dawn and dusk reduce risk.

If you want more information or have questions please call 1-888-310-0565.

Keystone Pipeline Lowers Dorchester Area Property Taxes

Many readers are tired of reading about and hearing about the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline project.  Out-of-state anti-oil activists who've organized a group of disgruntled ranchers seem to make the headlines at least once a week. A sympathetic news media with an agenda -- especially the Lincoln newspaper -- religiously give this group of malcontents plenty of free press.

So why are we devoting precious space to the subject? Would you believe that Mother Jones, a left-wing publication based in San Francisco, contacted little ol' Dorchester Times to gather negative feedback on the original Keystone pipeline, which runs just east of our community?

We told Mother Jones to take a hike.  Moreover, as a result of their digging, we thought we'd remind our readers that the original Keystone Pipeline has significantly lowered their property taxes if they own real estate in the Dorchester School District.

Saline County and at least half a dozen other Nebraska counties had mostly positive experiences when the first Keystone Pipeline was constructed.  Area landowners received payments that contributed to our local economy, area businesses saw extra commerce during the recession, and ag land was carefully restored to pre-construction condition.

But there was another payoff that has lasted long after the dirt settled.  According to Saline County Treasurer Debbie Spanyers, property owners in the Dorchester School District saw a levy decrease from 2011 to 2012 due in large part to a valuation increase triggered by the new pipeline.  

Spanyers told the Times that in 2011, the general fund levy for the Dorchester School District was $1.06.  By 2012, once the pipeline's value had been assessed, that levy dropped significantly to $0.975.  This means for every $100 of assessed value in property, $0.975 was to be paid in the form of property taxes to fund Dorchester School's expenses.  This levy decrease occurred because valuations in the district increased nearly 20% -- to more than $41 million -- from 2011 to 2012.  Half of that valuation increase was due to the pipeline, alone.  

The end result was a lower property tax burden for the residents of the Dorchester School District. If you own a $100,000 home, your tax burden fell around $80.  If you own 500 acres of irrigated farm ground, your tax burden fell approximately $4,000. 

The bottom line is more than a quarter of a million dollars was paid by TransCanada instead of property owners in the Dorchester School District.  (Note: Farm ground was largely responsible for the other half of increased valuations. So you can thank TransCanada and your local farmers for keeping your residential property taxes in check.)  

For the record, Treasurer Spanyers would offer neither her opinion on the pipeline nor provide her stance on the newly proposed Keystone XL project.  But as one Dorchester resident told us:  "Don't like oil pipelines? Oppose the Keystone XL? Simple -- you can protest by paying more in property taxes.  Just make sure you walk or ride your horse to the courthouse to pay your bill."

Good advice.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Denmark's Laura Davidsen Likes Dorchester's Rural Life

DHS Longhorn Laura Davidsen, 16, came all the way from Denmark to join the Dorchester's senior class for the 2013-2014 school year.  The foreign exchange student was recently profiled in the Friend Sentinel.

The Sentinel writes: "Since arriving in Dorchester in early August, Laura has had a lot of fun getting to know people and is enjoying the small town atmosphere.

"'One of the biggest difference is living in the country. I am used to the city,' she said. 'I like it a lot.' Laura has enjoyed her classes at Dorchester and says art class is her favorite.  

"She also is looking forward to hitting the volleyball court for the first time."

The story notes Laura said she was interested in participating in the foreign exchange student program after hearing about one of her friend’s experience as a foreign exchange student. 

"'It is important to learn about another culture and to try to be away from home,' she said."

During her time in Dorchester, Laura is staying with Bob and Julie Behrens. She will return to Denmark in May after Dorchester’s graduation ceremony.