Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Crisis: Nearly 1 in 3 Saline Co. Residents Are Obese

A new report says Nebraska had the nation's 23rd highest adult obesity rate in 2013. 

That's according to the Associated Press, which reports the Trust for America's Health and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that 29.6% of adults in Nebraska were obese last year.  

This is nearly a 2% jump from the previous year.

Nebraska's obesity rate was higher than in Colorado and Wyoming but lower than its neighboring states of Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and South Dakota.

The Dorchester Times did its own research and found Saline County is a bit heavier than the average Nebraska county. 

More than 31% of Saline County residents -- nearly one in every three -- are obese, according to health data.  

The definition of obese is "the condition of being grossly fat or overweight."  The medical definition is having a body mass index (fat to muscle ratio) in excess of 30.

Meanwhile, obesity rates have tripled nationwide since 1980.  The age group where the rates are growing the fastest? Children.

Parents take the blame for this, but our society on the whole is the problem. Kids lack the ability to buy and choose their own food. They’re at the mercy of what the rest of us give them.  One of the biggest causes in our bad nutrition is that we’re reluctant to eat at home, opting instead for fatty, high-carbohydrate fast food, sodas and convenience food (such as cereals, so-called 'nutrition bars', and the like).

In 2009, almost 50% of our food spending was made on fast food or other food not cooked at home.   When we do eat at home, it's typically lots of starches, breads and processed foods -- which pack on the pounds.  It's actually rare to see families dine around the table nowadays, sharing lean meat, cooked veggies and fruits, and a glass of skim milk.

We hope Dorchester parents (and teens who are old enough to know better) are making wiser choices.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Lady Longhorns Enter Exhausting Part Of Schedule

It has been a busy week for the Lady Longhorns volleyball team, also known as the "Orange and Black Attack."  The team now sports a record of 4-10, but half of those losses have been to Class C2 or D1 teams.

The young DHS squad started last week by beating the Osceola Lady Bulldogs in Dorchester, where team members celebrated Parents Night.

Last Thursday, the Lady Longhorns dropped contests to High Plains Community and Shelby/Rising City at the Shelby triangular tournament.

On Saturday, DHS picked up another win against Parkview Christian, but lost games to Lawrence-Nelson and Nebraska Lutheran, who will take on Dorchester again in the final regular season game.

The Lady Longhorns are back in action tomorrow, Sept. 30, against a 1-10 Sterling team. On Thursday, Oct. 2, DHS will be part of a triangular event at Diller-Odell.

Looking Back: Thompson Pony Farm & Rodeo

Today we look back at one of the most intriguing pieces of Dorchester's past: the Thompson Rodeo and Elmwood Pony Farm. (In fact, if we reversed the calendar 100 years, chances are you'd be at the Thompson Rodeo right now, in late September.)

Owned and operated by Colonel W.J. Thompson, the Elmwood Pony Farm was located in the northeast part of Dorchester. The farm sat on present day 10th Street, between Lincoln and Fulton Avenues.

Dating back to the 1890s, the Elmwood Pony Farm was one of the largest pony farms west of the Mississippi River. By the 1920s, the pony farm was home to more than 300 ponies.  

Thompson's pony farm was a popular destination for children from miles around, according to accounts of longtime residents. Children who lived in the country were even permitted to take home a pony and ride it all summer, if they agreed to keep it fed well.

Each September, Colonel Thompson took as many as 35 Shetland ponies to the Nebraska State Fair for rides. He entered many more of the animals in the fair's show contests. All of the ponies were herded overland from Dorchester to Lincoln by Thompson farm employees.

In 1930, Colonel Thompson's son, Wallace, started the Thompson Rodeo. It was usually a three-day event held each fall, complete with fighting broncos, cowboys, clowns, trick riders, cowgirls, bull doggers, concessions, rides, dancing and "whoopee."  (Pictured at the top of the story is an original banner from the Thompson Rodeo.  The banner is now hanging in the Saline County Museum.)

The Dorchester rodeo attracted many top riders from around the country, as well as local talent. An Oklahoma rider even came within 0.7 seconds of the world's record in calf roping at the Dorchester Rodeo.

At one time, more than 7,000 spectators were reported in attendance at the Dorchester Rodeo. Many people had high hopes that Dorchester would become a permanent rodeo on the famous circuit that included Cheyenne Frontier Days, as well as the Burwell and Sidney rodeos. But by 1940, the rodeo hit a spell of heavy rain and events were cancelled.

By 1942, the country was fighting WWII and the Thompson Rodeo closed its doors permanently, becoming another relic of our community history.

(This is a reprint of a Times article that was published originally in August 2007.)

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Smile, Dorchester -- You're In One Of America's Happiest States

You have good reason to smile, Dorchester.  Nebraska has just been named (again) one of America's happiest sates.

In a new study conducted by financial website WalletHub.com, Nebraska has been named one of America's five happiest states.  

To determine its findings, WalletHub examined 26 key metrics from each of the 50 states. 

This included statistics on financial security, mental and physical health, job situation, environment, social connections, sports participation, volunteerism and general outlook on life.  

Nebraska, according to the study, is ranked the No. 5 happiest of all the states.  Only Utah, Minnesota, North Dakota and Colorado are ranked higher than the Cornhusker State.  Nebraska outshines Colorado in the areas of "work" and "community."

In the category of "work," Nebraska scored very high marks (fourth best) due to its commute times income levels as compared to cost-of-living, and low jobless rate.

Nebraska also performed well in the category of "community, environment and recreational activities" due to its high volunteerism rate, percentage of children in married families, fewer divorces and low crime.

We suggest Nebraskans -- and especially those in Saline County -- need to reinforce to our kids how the grass really is green on OUR side of the fence.  Encourage our young people to make their home here at home.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Hampton Situation Is Reminder Of Expense Of Aging Buildings

The Associated Press is reporting that even though voters in Hampton (population 439) approved spending $750,000 to construct a new city hall, officials now say the project might cost more -- around $900,000 after only one bid was made for the project.

Village Clerk Sue Dallegge, who has worked at city hall since 1989, said the current building has a leaky roof and cracks in some walls. Moreover, some city equipment, such as a backhoe, won't fit inside. "It's in sad shape," Dallegge said.

This story is a reminder that buildings, no matter how well constructed, have a limited life span.  We suspect that most, if not all, of the commercial buildings on Dorchester's main street are in need of structural rehabilitation. 

This leads us to ask the following:

  • What is the long-term plan to repair Dorchester's downtown structures? 
  • How do we encourage private owners to make the necessary improvements? 
  • Does Dorchester need a "building improvement fund" to match the efforts of business owners? 
  • Should the village get in the business of repairing commercial buildings and renting them to budding entrepreneurs?

Without a doubt, these are tough questions.  Nonetheless, the community probably needs to start having this discussion now to plan for Dorchester's future.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

DHS Grad Gerry Znamenacek Passes At 54

Gerry L. Znamenacek, 54, of Lincoln passed away at home on Sept. 20, 2014. He was born Dec. 9, 1959 in Crete, Nebraska to Lester and Joann (Horky) Znamenacek. Gerry graduated from Dorchester High School in 1978, where he wrestled, played football and baseball. Gerry worked for Nebraska Correctional Services for 22 years. He loved fishing, camping, the mountains, and Husker football.

Preceded in death by his father; grandparents, Fred and Agnes Znamenacek and Henry and Rose Horky; and cousin, Randy Portsche. Survived by his mother; sons, Michael (Allie), Tyler, and Mitchell; sister, Leslie (Mark) Kinzie; brother, Kevin (Jane) Znamenacek; aunts, cousins, nieces, nephews, and friends.

Funeral Services will be Friday, Sept. 26, 2014 at 10 a.m., Lincoln Memorial Funeral Home, 6800 So. 14th St., Lincoln. Family requests casual attire. Visitation will be Thursday (9/25) from 4-8 PM. Interment at Lincoln Memorial Park. Memorials in care of the family. Condolences may be left online at www.lincolnfh.com.

Monday, September 22, 2014

OPINION: Church Members, Baseball Players Lead By Example

Today, we wanted to give a shout out to the leaders and members of the Dorchester United Methodist Church, as well as the Dorchester Little League Baseball players.

Both organizations require money to make needed upgrades and improvements.  And both are leading by example, raising money to meet those needs -- not by just holding out their hands, but by working hard to earn those funds.

In just one week, the Dorchester baseball players sold raffle tickets to raise more than $650 for new equipment.  In a single afternoon, the church raised thousands of dollars with its annual auction, conducted by Novak Auction Service.

It's not the amount of money raised that impresses us most.  Instead, it's the initiative demonstrated by the church's congregation and the ball players to improve their lot.  

As with any effort, some did more than their fair share of the heavy lifting.  But the main point is that a rising tide lifts all boats.  In short, everyone affiliated with these organizations will benefit.

Way to go, Dorchester.  Give yourself a pat on the back.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

DHS-MHS Falls To Holdrege; Lady Longhorns Take 5th

The Milford-Dorchester football team suffered its second loss of the young season on Friday night against Holderege.  The final score from Milford was 27-6.

With Holdrege leading by a touchdown in the fourth quarter, MHS-DHS gave up a 46-yard run that changed the momentum of the game. Cole finished with 92 yards on 14 carries.

MHS-DHS is now 2-2 and will face Fairbury on the road next week.

Meanwhile, the DHS volleyball squad took fifth place at the Bruning-Davenport-Shickley tournament.  Hampton defeated Dorchester 25-14, 25-14.  Silver Lake defeated Dorchester 25-22, 25-14.  But the Lady Longhorns bounced back to defeat Harvard 25-20, 25-10.

The DHS volleyball squad will have a busy week ahead, being in action Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Friend Proves Too Powerful For Lady Longhorns

Last night in Friend, the Class D-2 Dorchester Lady Longhorns (1-3) took on the Class D-1 Friend Lady Bulldogs (8-3) in a battle of the next-door rivals.

Some Longhorn fans said before the game they were optimistic about DHS' chances, considering the talent on this year's team.  

But FHS, whose volleyball team earned third at last year's Nebraska High School Volleyball Tournament, let the Dorchester squad know they have some maturing and improving to do if they're going to compete with the area's top talent. 

Friend soundly defeated the Dorchester girls, 25-10, 25-19, 25-8.

Tomorrow, Saturday, Sept. 20, the Longhorns head to Bruning-Davenport-Shickley for a tournament.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Looking Back: Dorchester's Firsts

Most area historians concur that "Andreas' History of the State of Nebraska" -- written in the late 1800s -- is an authority on Saline County's earliest days. No other collection of information is as vivid or thorough.

Through the online edition of "Andreas' History," the Times has compiled a collection of Dorchester's firsts -- including the first couple married in town, the first birth, the first death, and the first official sermon.

Here is a look back at some the firsts of our community, whose roots begin in the year 1870, when Dorchester's location was selected by the Burlington and Missouri River Railroad and the survey was made. 

* First Residents: Before buying the site that would become Dorchester from the U.S. Government, the railroad sent four men to claim an entire section of land, with each claiming 160 acres. Two of the four men who settled at that time were James Seely and Edward McIntyre -- Dorchester's first residents. Both made a permanent location here. The other two remained just long enough to secure the land and transfer it to the railroad.

* First Birth: The first birth occurred in early 1872, and was that of John, son of Mr. and Mrs. John Hawkins. The next birth occurred October 10, 1872, and was that of Ed McIntyre Parker, son of Hon. and Mrs. T. B. Parker.

* First Death: The first death occurred in the spring of 1873, and was that of Burke, the infant son of Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Windrem.

* First Sermon: Sometime in late 1870 or early 1871, the first formal sermon in Dorchester was preached by Rev. Frederick Alley, a Congregational minister.

* First Official School: The first schoolhouse was built in 1872.

* First Church: The Christian church was built in the summer of 1878. 

* First Bank: The Bank of Dorchester was established in October 1881.

* First Newspaper: The Dorchester Star was established August 21, 1881.

* First Village Board: Dorchester was incorporated as a village in 1881, with N. B. Alley, Thomas Jarrett, John Oberlies, S. G. Panter, and W. H. Pallett listed as Trustees; C. F. Thomas, Clerk; J. H. Clark, Treasurer; and M. O. Alley, Marshal.

* First Census Count: In 1879, Dorchester had 673 residents. A year later, it had 954.

Fall Pictures From Dorchester

Fall is still officially a week away, making its debut Sept. 23.

But it certainly feels like autumn already as temperatures last week were well below average -- coming dangerously close to our first frost on Sept. 13.

Autumn in Nebraska is a wonderful time of change, filled with vibrant colors, pleasant weather, football Saturdays, fresh fall air, and optimism for a bountiful harvest.  

If you live here during this time of year, you should feel lucky and blessed.  

The Dorchester Times recently asked its readers to send us their autumn pictures.

Today, we share with you a fall photo we've been sent.  We hope you it as much as we did.

Send your autumn pictures to: Dorchester.Times@gmail.com.  Be sure to note the "dot" between "Dorchester" and "Times."

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Dorchester UMC Auction, BBQ Is Sunday, Sept. 21

Dorchester United Methodist Church’s Annual Community Auction will be held Sunday, Sept. 21, 2014.

All Dorchester area residents are encouraged to join the fun, which will be held on the church grounds. 

The day's activities begin with a beef and pork barbecue from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.  

The auction starts at 1 p.m. and will continue through approximately 4 p.m.  

During the auction, time will be set aside for the annual children's cake raffle -- always a big hit with grandparents.

There will be numerous auction items that will be of special interest. Novak Auction Service will be taking the bidding.

We hope all Times' readers will enjoy the first weekend of fall by supporting the community's church and the good work of its members by contributing generously at this Sept. 21 auction.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Check Out This Fantastic Dorchester Home; Available Now

Dorchester is a great town and it's getting noticed for all the right reasons. Just consider what Dorchester has to offer:
  • A new K-12 school.
  • A peaceful and safe community.
  • A new water tower and upgraded sewer system.
  • The lowest school tax levy in the county.
  • Affordable cost of living.
  • One of the largest agri-businesses (Farmers Cooperative) in the state.
  • Good people for neighbors.
  • A 10-minute drive from many employers in Crete and Seward. And only 30 minutes to jobs in Lincoln. Located next to two highways and minutes from Interstate 80.
However, one challenge facing Dorchester is housing.  We've heard from many readers who've said they would like to move to Dorchester, if only homes were available.

Today, we showcase the latest Dorchester home available right now.  If you're ready to call Dorchester home, we encourage you to take a look.  

404 W 11th Street:  If you like small town living, this is the house for you.  All new inside and out! Owner has updated the interior with new kitchen, bath, plumbing, flooring and paint. Has new windows, vinyl siding, a/c, furnace, roof and gutters. This is ready to move into and has four possible bedrooms, with one of them being on the main floor, along with the laundry. Located on a very large corner lot with new two stall garage and plenty of room to add a shop or out building.

Click here for more information.

MHS-DHS Football Gets Second Victory; DHS Volleyball Loses Two

The Milford-Dorchester football team snagged another victory on Friday evening in a nail  biter at David City.  The MHS-DHS squad came away with a 8-6 victory, despite a late surge by David City.

Milford-Dorchester found itself up early, 2-0 in the first quarter, due to a safety.  In a defensive struggle MHS-DHS led 8-0 at halftime thanks to a 10-yard TD run, but surrendered a 55-yard sprint to the goal line in the third quarter.

The football team will return to action Friday in Milford as they prepare for the Holdrege Dusters.

In volleyball action, the Lady Longhorns have fallen to 1-3 on the season, as they dropped two matches in Hampton on Thursday night.  In the first contest, Hampton defeated Dorchester, 25-11, 25-17.  In the second match-up, Class D powerhouse Giltner defeated the Lady Longhorns, 25-9, 25-17

The Dorchester volleyball squad returns to action on Thursday against next-door rival Friend High School, followed by a one-day tournament on Saturday in Shickley.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Advice For The Young -- And The Young At Heart

This blog and its staff place much importance on Dorchester's history. We do this because there are lessons to be learned from days gone by.

We also believe in listening to those who are older than us. (Yes, there are still a few people older than those of us on the Times staff.)  For those people, too, carry valuable lessons.

Today, we share with our readers a worthwhile article and an interview with a 104-year-old Florida woman.  In it, the centenarian attributes her long life to an optimistic outlook, a healthy way of life, and an active mind (including reading).  

She also notes that she liked to travel and still likes to gamble. She believes in God and goes to church. She never worried much about money. And she doesn't watch the movies of today because they've "changed" (even though she was a fan of "the pictures" the 1930s and '40s).

The article mentions a recent survey of Americans who have reached age 100 or older. More than one-third of those centenarians said that – if they could do it again – they would spend more time with loved ones.  Another 21% said parents should be stricter with their children.  Those were the top two answers given.

So the point here is, go ahead, invite your friends and family over tonight.  

Take time to reconnect with old friends.  

Don't coddle your kids or be their best buddy, but instill them with life lessons and teach them right from wrong at all times.

Do now what so many can no longer do but wish they had.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Is Six-Man Football An Option At DHS?

There's quite a discussion taking place on the Dorchester Times' Facebook page.  It centers around a question we posed to our Facebook followers: Should Dorchester High School play 6-man football in 2015 -- after the two-year cooperative agreement with Milford has concluded?

Entering the second school year of Dorchester's football merger with Milford, we see benefits, including better competition and a chance to have a sustainable program in an era in which students are not pushed to participate.  However, there are also clear drawbacks:
  • Decreased participation. Boys who would likely go out for a stand-alone DHS team don't want to ride the bus to a nearby town everyday.
  • Fewer opportunities for Dorchester kids to start/play on merged athletic teams. 
  • Loss of revenue suffered by DPS due to no home games at Nerud Field.
Six-man football may or may not be a feasible option for DHS next season. There are only a handful of Nebraska schools -- 18 to be exact -- that play the six-man game, but the number is definitely growing.  Currently, six-man football isn't even a sanctioned program of the Nebraska School Athletics Association, which may not be a bad thing.

The nearest school to Dorchester participating in the state's Six-Man Football Association is Deshler.  Most of the six-man schools are much further west.  

The most obvious negative to playing six-man football would be the travel time.  (Another drawback is you need to be a mathematician to tally some of the high scoring games.)

However, with an organized effort and some phone calls by eastern Nebraska school administrators and coaches, we are certain that six-man football could return to its glorious past.

As we wrote on our Facebook page, Dorchester's six-man teams of the 1950s were quite successful. The reality is, the size of Nebraska's small schools today resembles 1950 more than they do 1980.  Our urban areas have grown, while rural areas have lost population, especially among farm families. Fewer students are participating in sports, even when class sizes are healthy.  

So tell us: Is it time for DHS to bring back six-man football? Check out the Times' survey in the left column of our webpage (non-mobile version) and vote.

Area Rainfall Amounts: Dorchester Gets Another Half Inch

More rain has filled the rain gauges of Saline County this week, as the Times' official gauge showed around 0.50 in. following Tuesday evening's precipitation.

That makes for a little more than 5.60 inches over the past two weeks in Dorchester's village limits.  

Everything is our area is rather saturated, as evidenced by Dorchester's main street drainage -- or lack thereof -- last night.

Areas north and south of Dorchester saw much heavier rainfall.  Here are the area totals:

DeWitt (0.3 miles WNW) ........ 1.15" 
Western (1.2 SE) ...................... 0.69" 
Friend (3.4 E) ........................... 0.55" 
Wilber (7.0 WSW) ................... 0.45"
Dorchester (2.1 NW) ............... 0.41"
Dorchester (4.5 SSE) ............... 0.35"
Tobias (4.7 SSW) .................... 0.20"
Western (4.4 NNE) .................. 0.13"

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Looking Back: The Establishment Of Dorchester's City Park

The Dorchester City Park has been part of our community for 83 years.

Kinda makes you wonder where town kids played before that, huh?

After Dorchester's official founding in 1881, our village had no official park for the community's first fifty years. Then in June 1931, Jacob Sack, president of Sack Lumber and Coal Company, donated seven lots to the Village of Dorchester for use as a public park.  That's according to "The Centennial History of Dorchester and Pleasant Hill."

The village board acted promptly on the donation.  Town leaders laid out and landscaped the plot of land.  

Today, our city park features a new park shelter, a basketball court, public restrooms, swings and new playground equipment for younger children.

More than 80 decades after his donation, we are grateful to Mr. Sack and we encourage Dorchester's families to utilize and maintain our fine city park.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

This Autumn, Send Your Fall Pics To The Times

Dorchester area residents this weekend have received their first real taste of fall, as temperatures dropped into the 40s at night and the days were a bit cooler.

Autumn in Nebraska is a wonderful time of change, filled with vibrant colors, pleasant weather, football Saturdays, fresh fall air, and optimism for a bountiful harvest.

If you live here at this time of year, you probably feel lucky and blessed.  If you don't live here, we will do our best to share the season with you.

The Dorchester Times asks its readers to send us your autumn pictures so that others can see this wonderful change of seasons -- even if they're not in Nebraska.

Send your pictures to: Dorchester.Times@gmail.com.  Be sure to note the "dot" between "Dorchester" and "Times."

Saturday, September 6, 2014

DPS Art Teacher Recognized For Inspirational Design

Here's some happy news coming from the Dorchester Public School's art program.

A week before the new school year commenced, DPS art instructor Mrs. Stacy Lutjemeyer received an e-mail asking for artists to submit designs for the Illuminating Lincoln Lighthouse project.  Each piece of art was to be designed in the shape of a light bulb.  Mrs. Lutjemeyer thought this would be a great project to start DPS art classes.  

Mrs. Lutjemeyer informed the Times that the Dorchester students submitted some extremely creative pieces of art -- from  Husker designs to a rural landscape.  Each student also wrote a description of why they chose this design for their light bulb.  

Mrs. Lutjemeyer, who paid the students' entry fee out of her own pocket, took the time to design a bulb herself.  A week later, she received an e-mail with some very nice comments about the student work she sent in.  Also, she learned that her own designs had been chosen to be part of the exhibit next summer -- if a $3,000 sponsor steps forward.  

There was an article in last weekend's Lincoln Journal Star about the project.  

The Times has been informed that if Mrs. Lutjemeyer's design gets a sponsor, she will get a 6 ft. tall light bulb and funding for supplies to decorate it with her design.  Money that is leftover, will go to help support The Lighthouse in Lincoln.  (It is The Lighthouse's 25th year, serving local at-risk youth with year-round programs.) The completed lightbulbs will be on display next summer around Lincoln.  They will be auctioned off after that.

Mrs. Lutjemeyer's design was a tribute to the late actor and comedian Robin Williams.  

Mrs. Lutjemeyer said: "Depression is a ongoing problem everywhere.  Hopefully, this bulb design will promote happiness and spreading it to others that may be down."

As a side note, Mrs. Piper substituted for Mrs. Lutejemeyer while she was in Lincoln yesterday with her design.  Pictured is Mrs. Piper and the Dorchester 8th graders, as the class worked on a project to promote positive things that happen in education at school. 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

DHS Volleyball Begins Season Tonight

The 2014 Dorchester High School volleyball team will see its first action of the new season tonight at the Weeping Water triangular.

The Lady Longhorns are looking to forge a culture of winning traditions under a second-year head coach Ty Peteranetz.  

Coach Peteranetz is a self-described "transplanted, Colorado-born Husker fan," who moved to Omaha in 2011 after 30 years in Colorado to be the assistant volleyball coach at the College of St. Mary.  He missed teaching terribly, so he resigned his position with CSM to be an educator and coach at DHS.  He teaches Dorchester's fourth grade.

In 2013, DHS fielded one of the youngest high school volleyball teams in Nebraska.  This season, the Lady Longhorns will have the depth to accomplish some great things, with more than 20 girls expected to be competing for starting roles on the squad. 

Insiders say the increased numbers of players will definitely bring more success, with young but experienced players like Jacee Weber, Kacey Zoubek and Avery Behrens, all of who helped lead the team last season.

2014 DHS Longhorn Volleyball

09/04/14 Palmyra, Weeping Water (Triangular @ Weeping Water)
09/11/14 Hampton, Giltner  (Triangular @ Hampton)
09/18/14 @ Friend
09/20/14   BDS Invite (1-Day Tournament, Several Teams) @ Shickley
09/23/14 Osceola
09/25/14 High Plains Community, Shelby/Rising City (Triangular @ Shelby/Rising City)
09/27/14 Nebraska Lutheran Tournament (1-Day Tournament, Several Teams) @ Waco
09/30/14 @ Sterling
10/02/14 Meridian, Diller-Odel (Triangular @ Diller-Odell)
10/07/14 @ Parkview Christian
10/09/14 Exeter-Milligan, Cross County (Triangular @ home)
10/14/14 BDS, McCool Junction  (Triangular @ home)
10/18-21 Crossroads Conference Tournament (2/3-Day Tournament) @ York
10/28/14 Parkview Christian, Nebraska Christian  (Triangular @ home)
10/31/14 @ Nebraska Lutheran

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Dorchester Housing Costs: 52% Below U.S. Average, 29% Less Than Lincoln

If you follow the Times regularly, and you read today's earlier post about Dorchester's
electricity rates, you knew there would be reaction -- both good and negative.  

(Editor's Note: Even when we point out problems, we are always disappointed to see how quickly some people -- friends whom we know and like -- are to publicly disparage the community in which they live.  We wish they would change their ways or just keep quiet on social media.)

Going forward, town leaders should work to find ways to ensure that Dorchester's electric rates are always at or below the state average.  

But we want to remind Dorchester residents of the community's best-kept secret: it's cost-of-living advantage.  

Most of our readers know already that we have it pretty good in Dorchester. Now it has been confirmed by Sperling's Best Places -- a national website that provides data on thousands of metro areas, cities, and neighborhoods.  

We used Sperling's cost-of-living index to see how Dorchester stacks up. Keep in mind that Sperling's indices are based on a U.S. average of 100.  An amount below 100 means Dorchester is cheaper than the U.S. average.  A cost-of-living score above 100 means Dorchester is more expensive.  

Below are the results.

Here's what the analysis tells us:
  • Dorchester housing (almost always a family's or individual's biggest expense) is a whopping 52% cheaper than the U.S. average.  This include mortgage, rent and property tax.  52% cheaper -- let this one sink in!
  • Groceries in our area stores are 5% cheaper than the U.S. average.
  • Health care services in our area are 6% cheaper than the U.S. average.
  • Transportation -- which includes gasoline and auto repair -- is 6% cheaper than the U.S. average.
Overall, Dorchester's cost of living is 79.70 based on a U.S. average of 100.  That means in every category other than utilities, Dorchester is less expensive than the U.S. average. 

Other key findings from our research on Sperling's:
  • Dorchester holds a cost-of-living advantage over Crete, Friend, Wilber, Pleasant Dale, Milford, and other nearby communities.
  • Dorchester's utility rates, according to Sperling's, are in line with Friend, Crete and Wilber -- and are cheaper than Milford and Pleasant Dale (which had an index score of 107).
  • John Cougar Mellencamp once sang: "Got nothin' against the big town." And we say the same thing.  But housing in Lincoln and Omaha is nearly 29% more than Dorchester.  

Dorchester Residents, Businesses Face Higher Than Average Electricity Bills

On this website, we often boast about Dorchester's low cost-of-living -- from our community's affordable housing to our school district's below-average tax levy.  Cost of living is a key component to our quality of life.  And as we tell our friends, if you can't afford to live in Dorchester, you're going to struggle almost anywhere else in these great United States.

But we believe in reporting both the good and the bad.  So when we examined utility rates, we were disappointed to see Dorchester utilities are above the Nebraska average.

The average residential electricity rate in Dorchester is 11.79¢/kWh, according to ElectricityLocal.com, a website that compares local utility rates.  This means Dorchester's average residential electricity rate is 17.43% greater than the Nebraska average rate of 10.04¢/kWh.  Crete, Friend and Wilber all have residential electricity rates below the Nebraska average (Crete's rate is nearly 25% less.)

The good news is the average residential electricity rate in Dorchester is 0.76% less than the national average rate of 11.88¢/kWh. Residential rates in the U.S. range from 8.37¢/kWh to 37.34¢/kWh.  The average residential electricity bill in Nebraska is about $100/month, ranking 29th in the U.S. and 6.54% less than the national average of $107.

But we were especially concerned to find that the average commercial electricity rate (for businesses) in Dorchester is 12.45¢/kWh -- 48.57% greater than the Nebraska average rate of 8.38¢/kWh.  The average industrial electricity rate in Dorchester is 13.33¢/kWh, or 90.16% greater than the Nebraska average rate of 7.01¢/kWh.  This is an unfair burden on businesses in our town.

Keep in mind that the Village of Dorchester oversees and owns Dorchester's electrical delivery service, even if the day-to-day maintenance is being performed by the City of Crete for the time being.  This means profit from the utilities stays in Dorchester, which is a good thing, as opposed to sending it to a larger entity like Nebraska Public Power District.

Also, we realize that Dorchester's lower housing costs and property taxes more than offsets the higher than average utility bills.  Nonetheless, this in an area Dorchester leaders should address.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Harvest, A Hundred Years Ago

Soon it will be harvest time in Nebraska, so today we are sharing this postcard photograph taken in 1914 in the rural Dorchester area.  

We are unable to identify the individuals in the photo.  

The back of the postcard simply reads "Farm, Dorchester, Nebr."  

While corn is still corn, much in Nebraska has changed since 1914.  

Back then, the Cornhusker State had 1.2 million residents.  Today we stand at 1.9 million.

In 1914, most farms held between 80 and 120 acres -- and as the photo shows, you harvested your corn by hand. Today, 5,000-acre operations are common. 

A hundred years ago, the average Nebraska farm's value was around $16,000, including land, buildings, livestock and equipment.  Today, we can't count high enough to estimate one farm's modern equipment, muchless what the land is worth.

And in 1914, more than 60% of Nebraska farms were not making any payments to a lender, since most in those days believed in carrying no form of debt, if possible. Today, local bankers rely on farmers to keep borrowing, whether corn is $8 or $3.

To our area farmers, we salute you as harvest time nears.