Sunday, May 31, 2015

Report: Alumni Golf Tourney Boasts More Than 125 Participants

 DHS alums sported the school colors.

On Saturday, May 30, the second annual Dorchester High School Alumni Golf Tournament was held at Friend Country Club.  

According to a report e-mailed to the Dorchester Times, more than 125 alumni took part in this event.

Proceeds from the tourney will be going to the DHS athletic department, we are told.

The event was a four-man scramble tournament with shotgun starts at 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. 

There were several pin prizes, including the shortest drive. (One source tells us this less-than-prestigious prize was won by Matt Carroll.)

Morning golfers had to face stiff north winds and temperatures that hovered between 45 and 50 degrees.  Afternoon golfers saw plenty of sun and mild conditions.

We've asked more than a dozen who were involved in the tournament which team won the tournament.  

All reports indicated the tourney champ was last year's championship squad comprised of John Weber (1988), Vaughn Drake (1984), Lonny Drake (1991) and Joel Weber (1991).  

No official word just yet.


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

REMINDER: June 1 Is Deadline To Report Items For Dorchester Legion Auction

In an effort to keep the Dorchester American Legion, Post 264 functioning and located at its current location on main street, Legion members have decided to hold the first annual Dorchester American Legion Outdoor Sportsman Consignment Auction.

The auction will be held Saturday, July 4, 2015 on Dorchester's main street and at the Dorchester Volunteer Fire Department, according to an e-mail sent to us.  

For free advertising, have your consignments listed by June 1 by calling Tom Cerny, Post 264 commander, at (402) 381-8049 or -- or contact the other volunteers listed on the sale bill or contact
 Novak Auction Service at (402) 641-7213 to give them the information directly.

See the official sale bill for the auction by clicking here.  Novak Auction Service is donating their services for this worthwhile cause, we are told.

According to our information, the auction is intended for hunters, gun collectors, campers, hikers, fishers, outdoor enthusiasts, boaters, and others.

Anyone interested in selling his/her guns, rifles, hunting gear, tents, ammo, archery, fishing equipment, ATVs, campers, boats or other outdoor sporting goods will be able to sell their items at this auction, which will be part of Dorchester's Independence Day celebration, we are told. 

The seller of each item will keep almost all of the profit from the auction, but the Legion will be given a small percentage of the winning bid to help fund its activities and clubhouse.  

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

13" Of Rain Fell On Parts Of Saline County This Month

The news wires are reporting that Lincoln is about to set a new record for rainfall during the month of May.

Showers this past weekend pushed Lincoln's rainfall total for the month to 10.68 inches. The city's record rainfall for May is 10.72 inches in 1903.

Here in Saline County, we've set some wet-weather records of our own. Here are the rainfall totals Saline County from May 1 through today, May 26.

  • Wilber (4.1 west of town) ........... 12.72"
  • Western (1.2 SE) ...................... 12.24"
  • Tobias (4.7 SSW ) ...................... 12.05"
  • Swanton (1.3 SSW) .................... 12.04"
  • Western (4.4 NNE) .................... 11.66"
  • Tobias (1.8 E) .......................... 11.42"
  • DeWitt (0.3 WNW) ..................... 10.82"
  • Milford (5.9 SSE) .......................  9.16"
  • Dorchester (2.1 NW) ................... 8.69"
  • Friend (3.4 E) ........................... 7.18"
And there's more wet weather in sight, with rain predicted for Dorchester on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Memorial Day Services Monday, 10 A.M. And 11 A.M.

Do not forget the reason behind the holiday.

Many of us are welcoming the unofficial start of the summer season this weekend.  Some of us choose to hit the lakes, camp, play ball, grill, or just relax with friends and family.  

But we should all take a significant amount of time tomorrow to  pay homage to the true meaning of this holiday weekend.

The Dorchester American Legion's Veterans Memorial program is a tradition in our area that we are proud to honor. It is a heartfelt tribute to our military heroes -- past and present -- so many of whom sacrificed their lives for freedom and to protect our country.
The Dorchester Legion's ceremonies will be held Monday morning, May 26 -- 10 a.m. at the Dorchester Cemetery, followed by an 11 a.m. service at the Pleasant Hill Cemetery. 

Ceremonies will be conducted by Dorchester Legion Post 264. Lunch follows services at Dorchester Legion Hall.

Why not attend and show your appreciation for the sacrifices that have secured your freedoms and quality of life as an American?

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Looking Back: Old Bell Was The Pride Of DPS Campus

The Dorchester Public School's bell monument, located prominently in front of the main entrance, features the refurbished bell from the 1890 school building. 

How many of you know the story behind that bell?

For those old enough to remember, the old school bell was showcased as part of a 1932 brick monument, which stood just to the east of the 1927 school building, demolished in the summer of 2008. The old bell monument was razed a few years earlier due to its weakened structure and safety concerns.

Thanks to a loyal reader, the Dorchester Times was sent a May 1932 DHS alumni newsletter, which helped us uncover a little more history behind the old monument and the school bell, itself.

According to an Dorchester High School Alumni Pep Bulletin article written by W.R. Freidell (DHS Class of 1907), the bell was salvaged from "the wreckage of the old red brick school house" after that building was demolished in 1930. 

That's when the DHS Alumni Association asked DHS graduate Merion Mooberry (Class of 1916), a skilled architect, to design "an appropriate mounting for this bell." (Editor's note: The sketch below is from the May 1932 issue of the Bulletin.)

The original bell monument was unveiled at the fifth annual DHS alumni banquet on May 21, 1932. The "historic landmark and "grandsire of the campus" was presented to alumni by its builder, DHS graduate and contractor Thomas Grey, Jr. 

The newsletter reports that the bell was mounted in "a lovely designed, final resting place just east of the new high school." 

Following the alumni banquet, toasts were made "around the Traditional old bell."

We note that tickets for the 1932 alumni banquet were reduced to 65 cents a plate, due to "Old Man Oppression" -- otherwise known as the Great Depression.  But attendees still received the "same big three-course dinner," per the orders of Mrs. Panter, chairman of the banquet and wife of the town doctor.

Following the monument dedication and banquet dinner, alumni were invited to visit the historian's exhibit entitled, "See Yourselves as Others Saw You on Your Graduation Night Years Ago."

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

New Hotel, McDonald's Coming To Crete Soon

Soon, Dorchester area residents will have a new hotel and McDonald's nearby.

The Lincoln newspaper is reporting Anant Enterprises, LLC. announced plans for a three-story Fairfield Inn and Suites on a hillside site off Nebraska Highway 33/103 in Northeast Crete.  A preliminary site layout was introduced Monday at the Crete Planning Commission. 

The location is across from Crete Area Medical Center and near a soon to be constructed McDonald’s Restaurant.

City Administrator, Tom Ourada said in a news release, "this is by far the most significant project to date in our recently formed redevelopment district."

Construction is expected to begin in the first quarter of 2016.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Dorchester's Lois Eret Passes At 85

Lois Eret, 85, of Dorchester, died Monday, May 18, 2015, in Crete. 

A Funeral Service will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, May 21, 2015 at the Dorchester United Methodist Church with Rev. Paixao Baptista officiating. Interment will be in the Dorchester Cemetery. Visitation will be from 1-9pm on Wednesday and with family greeting relatives and friends from 6-8 pm at Lauber-Moore Funeral Home, Friend. Memorials have been established to the Dorchester United Methodist Church.

Lois Naomi Eret, was born May 8, 1930 in Lincoln, Nebraska to Ross and Helen (Stephen) Arnold the oldest of three children and passed away on Monday, May 18, 2015 at the Tabitha Nursing Center in Crete, Nebraska, with her devoted husband at her side, at the age of 85 years and 10 days. As young girl she attended country school and graduated with the class of 1947 from Dorchester High School. In 1950, she received her Registered Nurse designation from St. Elizabeth Nursing School in Lincoln. On December 22, 1950, Lois was united in marriage to Don Eret at the United Methodist Church in Dorchester and to this union three children, Joyce, Lee and Larry were born.

Lois and Don lived in Huntsville, Alabama for 17 years and she served for many years as a Red Cross bloodmobile volunteer and a nurse at the Huntsville Hospital. Returning to Nebraska Lois was employed as a nurse at Warren Memorial Hospital in Friend and as the school nurse at Dorchester Public School.

Lois was a member of the United Methodist Church and United Methodist Women of Dorchester. A long and faithful member, she served her church in many ways including financial secretary and as a member of the choir. Lois was a member of several nursing associations including, St. Elizabeth Nurses Organization, and Nebraska Nurses Alumni Association. She was also a member of the Dorchester American Legion Auxiliary, WFLA Tabor Lodge, Saline County Chorus, Dorchester Area Foundation and the Nebraska Legislative League. Lois was treasurer for the Saline County Democrats for several years and was the Dorchester High School alumni bookkeeper for 20 years.

While she lived in Alabama, Lois was a member of the Huntsville Lakewood Garden Club, and the Multiple Schlerosis Organization in which she continued to participate in Nebraska.

She was a very dedicated and loving person always showing caring for everyone around her, especially her family. In her spare time she enjoyed reading, often reading a book a day, especially western romance novels.

She is survived by her husband, Don, of Dorchester, daughter and son-in-law, Joyce and Bobby Boyd, Madison, AL, sons and daughters-in-law, Lee and Janice Eret, Lincoln, Larry and Betty Eret, Goehner, nine grandchildren and spouses, Brian TeGantvoort, Garth and Dawn TeGantvoort, Jessie and Josh Franklin, Michelle and Mitch McCarthy, Lindsey Eret, Kelli and Brian Kohout, Nikki Avery, Jamie and Jeff Bishop, Andrea Eret and fiancé Jack Classen, 15 great-grandchildren, sister, Belva Johnson, York, sisters-in-law and brother-in-law, Doris Richtarik, Wilber, Gladys and Ted Schmidt, Fremont, numerous nieces, nephews and a host of other relatives and friends.

Lois was preceded in death by her parents, grandson, Dale Boyd, brother, Dale Arnold, brothers-in-law, Chuck Johnson and Gene Richtarik.

Private condolences can be left here.

Last Day Of School Year Is Wednesday

The final bell of the 2014-2015 school year is about to ring at Dorchester Public School.

At 11:30 a.m. tomorrow (Wednesday), DPS classes will be dismissed until August.

There will still be school activities this month, including Nebraska State Track Meet for some Longhorns this Friday and Saturday.  And drivers' education classes begin on May 26.

The 2015-2016 Dorchester School calendar will soon be available on the school's website,  

The first day of  the new school year will be August 12.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Test Sirens Will Sound Tonight At 7 P.M.

Don't be alarmed this evening when you hear the town sirens going off.

Employees of the Village of Dorchester will be testing our community's civil defense sirens at 7 p.m. tonight (Monday).

This is just another reminder that tornado and severe weather season is under way.

Stay calm and use the time to make a plan with your family what to do in case a real emergency strikes.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

OUR VIEW: Senator Ebke, Legislature Should Uphold Death Penalty

Ordinarily, we limit the subject matter of this blog to the news of Dorchester and Saline County.  But with the Nebraska Legislature apparently set to do away with the state's death penalty, we want to expand our scope for this post.

According to the Omaha newspaper, Nebraska's state senators on Friday voted 30-16 in support of Senator Ernie Chamber's bill to end Nebraska's death penalty.  This despite the revelation from Governor Ricketts that the state will soon have the drugs to carry out executions again.  It looks like the legislature will take up the bill for a final vote this week.

The Legislature's death penalty repeal doesn't appear to be a religious movement, but is instead being carried out in the name of secular opposition to capital punishment, led mostly by atheist and race-obsessed Ernie Chambers -- the same guy who said earlier this year he'd shoot a police officer.

Here's what shocks us most:  State senators -- who are charged with representing the citizens of Nebraska -- are about to repeal the death penalty days after a horrific pair of premeditated murders in Omaha.  We're referring to the killing of 4-year-old Josue Ramirez-Marinero (who was alive and asleep when he was yanked from his car seat and tossed over a bridge into the overflowing Elkhorn River) and his mother, who was stabbed and beaten to death, both acts committed by her 25-year-old son.

It's worth noting also that repealing the death penalty would come less than two years after Nikko Jenkins -- who smirked and laughed as prosecutors recounted details of his victims' deaths -- pulled Andrea Kruger, a mother of three who was driving home from her job to tend to a sick child, from her car in Omaha and shot her in the head, neck and back, killing her in the middle of the road.  This is the same Nikko Jenkins who has been found guilty of executing at least three others in Omaha.  

Without the death penalty, Jenkins and the killer of Josue Ramirez-Marinero (and these other savages) will get to live the next 30, 40 or 50 years being fed well each day in comfort -- all expenses paid by state taxpayers.  Worse, there's always a chance these wastes-of-flesh will walk among us again so long as they possess a pulse.


Survey conducted by KETV.
For those who wish to make the death penalty a religious issue -- and those who do are usually the first to cry "separation of church and state" -- the Bible clearly teaches the legitimacy of capital punishment.

For those who say capital punishment is not an effective deterrent, there are plenty of us who believe it indeed deters some from killing innocent Nebraskans.  And we'll venture a guess that violent crime in Nebraska will increase if the death penalty is repealed.  

That said, the point of capital punishment is not only to deter but to uphold the sacredness of innocent human life.  
A society that bans the death penalty shows it no longer reveres innocent life the way its forefathers did. Instead, it sends a message of moral confusion -- that it has become a soft society that lacks the fortitude to deal with evil. 
By doing away with the death penalty, the State of Nebraska will advertise to all killers that no matter what they do to our children, women or elderly, their lives are safe and secure -- guaranteed by the state. The worst punishment they will get is three square meals a day in a comfortable cell provided by law abiding Nebraskans.
And keep this in mind:  According to the news we've read, this repeal of the death penalty would come after the legislature chose to raise the gas tax; legalize medical marijuana; and water down minimum sentencing laws for habitual criminals -- those who've been caught and convicted of committing three or more serious crimes.

What in the world is going on at the state capitol?


We're disappointed that state Senator Laura Ebke of Crete was among the 30 senators who voted to end the death penalty, as well as go soft on habitual criminals.  We'd bet our blog's masthead that if a public vote were held, capital punishment would be favored by 80% or better in Senator Ebke's legislative district, and more than 70% statewide.

Readers who care can call or e-mail Senator Ebke and tell her to reverse her votes on repealing the death penalty and aiding habitual criminals.  Her office phone is (402) 471-2711 and her e-mail is  (To see which 30 senators voted for repeal of the death penalty, click this link.  For a list of all senators and their contact information, visit the legislature's website.)

At the end of the day, state leaders have only a handful of key responsibilities they must fulfill.  One is to keep the public safe from the bad guys by any means necessary.  If they can't do that, they should step aside to make room for someone else who has the moral courage to do so.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Severe Weather Could Hit Again Today

Severe weather once again threatens Dorchester and the the rest of southern Nebraska, as our area is a potential target of a brewing storm this afternoon and evening.

For the Dorchester area, forecasters are predicting a 30%-50% chance of a severe afternoon and evening t-storms that could bring downpours, large hail, damaging winds, and a tornado.  

The best chance of this severe weather will be before 2 a.m. Sunday.

Stay tuned to the Dorchester Times for weather updates.  

Check here for warnings.  

Check here for the radar.  

And check here for the hourly forecast.


Thursday, May 14, 2015

DHS Class Of 2015 Graduates This Saturday

This Saturday, May 16, at 3:30 p.m., the Dorchester High School Class of 2015 will receive their diplomas and begin a new chapter in life.  

Ceremonies will be held in the DHS gym.

And DHS will add 14 more alumni to its distinguished list of graduates.  

Here are the members of DHS' Class of 2015 and their post-graduation plans:
  • Jessica Acosta: Undecided.
  • Maite Barandica:  Will return to her home country and attend Deusto College in Spain.  She plans to study International Law and Minor Protection.
  • Corey Bird: Attend Doane College where he will be part of the track team and major in education.
  • Alexis Bonilla: A year of work followed by Central Community College in Columbus to pursue a career in welding.
  • Leonardo Conte: Return to his home country to finish high school.
  • Katlynn Dewey: Attend the Myotherapy Institute to earn a degree in human and animal massage.
  • Stephan Heiermeier: Return to his home in German and finish high school.
  • Hannah June: Plans to attend Southeast Community College.
  • Nixon Nerud: Plans to attend Concordia University and play football and baseball, while majoring in accounting.
  • Cassidy Olson: Will attend Northwest Missouri State University, majoring in meta business.
  • Valeria Ortiz: Will attend Southeast Community College to study early childhood education.
  • Alex Stern: Undecided.
  • Taylor Vavra: Will enter the workforce.
  • Kaycey Zoubek: Will attend the College of Hair Design.
Our heartiest of congratulations to these fine Longhorns in the Class of 2015!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Funds Available For Low-Interest Home Repair

In the past, the Dorchester Times has mentioned the state of disrepair of a handful of properties in town.  As a result, we have been criticized by some readers for failing to recognize that the owners of such properties are low income.  

To those who have criticized us, we directly ask you to spread the word about the following program.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development has just announced adequate funding remains available to assist very low income households with home repairs.   For those who own and occupy homes in need of essential repairs and who are wondering how to get financing, USDA Rural Development can help with grants and low-interest loans for homeowners in rural communities. Dorchester is eligible for this program.

Applicants must own and occupy the home and not exceed income guidelines established by county and household size. The family’s income must below 50% of the county median income.  For many counties in Nebraska, the income limit for a one person household is $21,350; two person, $24,400; three person, $27,450; four person, $30,500 and five person, $32,950.  However, some counties may have higher income limits.  Please contact your USDA Rural Development office for the details in your county, or call (402) 437-5563.

For more information, visit may also contact Single Family Housing Specialist Krista Mettscher at 402-437-5518,

Monday, May 11, 2015

Arlington Students Research Burden Family's Plight

The Dorchester Times has received word that students from Arlington High School -- in Washington County near Fremont -- recently spent hours at the Saline County Museum to research the story of the Henry Burden family.

The Arlington Citizen reports that AHS students, under the tutelage of Arlington history teacher Barry Jurgenen, explored the house that belonged to Henry Burden, his wife, Mary, and their seven children. They even made their way up to the attic, which is where the Burden children slept. (Click here for a new Omaha World-Herald story on the Arlington students' research efforts.)

Burden, a former slave, served in the Union Army during the Civil War.  He settled in Pleasant Hill, just south of Dorchester, following the war.  He was the county’s first black homesteader.

The Arlington students are hoping to prove Burden was an escaped slave to be able to include his house and burial site in Pleasant Hill Cemetery on the National Park Service’s "Network to Freedom," a national registry for sites associated with the Underground Railroad.

Burden may have been impressed into the Confederate Army to help build fortifications during the Civil War. He and several hundred others apparently escaped and surrendered to the Union Army, which had an encampment nearby.

He went to Wisconsin, enlisted in the 17th U.S. Colored Troop and served a year before being honorably discharged. He made his way to Lincoln and then to the Dorchester area.

Back in February, students sifted through piles of paperwork and photos at the Saline County Historical Museum.  Judy Rada, president of the museum’s board, was there to help them.  “I think it’s fantastic that we have young people that are as interested and enthused as these kids are, which I am really impressed and a teacher who is willing to go to these steps to keep these kids involved in history,” Rada said. “We have a difficult time getting kids to come out here. I’m so glad that we have what we have here.”

Rada helped the students photocopy document after document. More than they would probably need, Jurgensen said. Rada also told them different stories about Henry. He and his family were the only black family in the county, she said, but they were treated like any other family.  “The reason he was so well accepted,” Rada said, “was because he knew all of his neighbors were Czech. He learned to speak Czech.”

The Burden children attended school in Pleasant Hill. Documents the students found noted that the school was integrated in the late 1800s.  Today, Rada said, not many people know the story about Henry Burden and his house.  “Not as much as they used to,” she said. “We definitely point it out to anyone who comes. We make sure they see it and they are aware of the history that is involved with it.”

The museum draws between 350 and 400 visitors a year, Rada said. A possible nomination and acceptance to the Network to Freedom could bring more. “It would be very good,” Rada said. “It would bring people who would not ordinarily be thinking of that. We can use all the tourist-type people we can get.”

With documents in hand, the students followed Rada to the Burden House, which sits just to the west of the museum's main building, along with an old schoolhouse, log cabin and train depot.  The group then met Larry Kaspar, the sexton of the Pleasant Hill Cemetery, where Henry Burden, his wife and two sons are buried.  Burden is buried in the southeast corner. A large ornate headstone designates his final resting place.

The newspaper story notes that military records indicated Burden enlisted in Wisconsin, but information the students found at the museum say he enlisted in St. Petersburg, W. Va.  Now the students are waiting on pension records from Washington, D.C. Those records could give a clearer picture about Burden. If not, they may have to take a different course.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

OUR VIEW: Dorchester Needs Goals To Secure A Brighter Future

Ask any self-help expert or "life coach" and they will say you need to set goals if you want to improve yourself.

The same holds true for communities, big and small.

Our village is full of helpful, caring people and giving individuals who donate their time and resources.  From our volunteers, to our businesses, to our school employees, to our elected leaders -- folks, we have it pretty good.

But it has begun to feel like we're not on the same page.  Our main street needs TLC and a vision.  Our housing situation hasn't improved in recent memory, especially with an aging population.  Some neglected properties are only getting worse.  Our streets -- well, we won't go there in this post.

The bottom line is that Dorchester is in need of some goal setting.  Clear community vision takes leadership and that leadership won't come from government.  

It is not the job of our town board, county, state or federal government to create a vision of what Dorchester should look like 5, 10, 20, or 50 years from now.  That job belongs to you -- the residents of Dorchester and its surrounding area. (And to those hoping for some big grant to address pending concerns, no magical government is going to fall from the sky to help us help ourselves.)

We like the building blocks Dorchester has in place:  The community foundation, a planning committee, and various volunteer organizations and clubs.  

But those minds need to come together soon and conceive a plan that will start moving Dorchester toward a brighter future.  

Let's start by setting a handful of goals with firm deadlines.

For example, we suggest the Dorchester Community Foundation ask area households to submit their goals for future projects.  

Perhaps the school board and administration should ask patrons for goals they would like to see ingrained in the curriculum at DPS.  Educators should be asking students, younger and older, what their goals are for the community that is providing them 13 years of education.

Goals provide focus; goals allow us to measure progress; and goals give motivation.

Yes, we are certain that Dorchester could benefit from a healthy dose of goal-setting. And we're just as certain this will only work if the goals are those of the community at large.

Great Dorchester Home For Sale; Price Reduced To $85K

Dorchester is one of the state's best communities under 1,000 -- and it is getting noticed for the right reasons. Consider what our community has to offer:
  • A new K-12 school.
  • A clean, peaceful and safe community.
  • A new water tower and 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.
  • Friendly, helpful neighbors.
  • A 10-minute drive from employers in Crete and Seward. And just 30 minutes to Lincoln. Located next to two highways and minutes from Interstate 80.
However, one challenge facing Dorchester is housing.  We've heard from readers who've said they would like to move to Dorchester, if only good homes were available.

Today, we showcase the latest Dorchester home available right now.  And it's a dandy! If you're ready to call Dorchester home, we encourage you to take a look.  Make Dorchester your home and grow with our community.

801 Sumner Avenue: If you like small town living -- and affordable living -- this is the house for you.  Live in a quality home and get ahead financially for once. 
Ranch house with two bedrooms, 2 bath, 1,170 square footage with a big lot! Vinyl siding; front of house has paving located on a corner lot one block from the school. Enclosed porch one in front and one in back of house. Reduced to $85,000.

Click here for this home listing.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Forecast: More Heavy Rains On The Way

Around 48 hours since the last round of rain hit Dorchester and southeast Nebraska, our area still remains under a flood warning.

Now forecasters are predicting periods of rain, some heavy, and very high chances of a severe thunderstorm.  We've been told to watch for flash flooding.

For those of you with property under water, washed out fields, flooding in your basements and other property damage, it looks like the rains aren't letting up any time soon.

Stay tuned to the Dorchester Times for weather updates.  

Check here for warnings.  

Check here for the radar.  

And check here for the hourly forecast.


Friday, May 8, 2015

Governor Pays Tribute To Charley Havlat And Nebraska Communities

On Thursday, May 7, 2015 -- exactly 70 years to the day that a Nazi bullet ended the life of Dorchester's Charley Havlat -- Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts stopped by our village and the Saline County Museum to honor Havlat, his sacrifice, his values and his hometown.

More than 125 attended the ceremony, including the Dorchester American Legion honor guard and Charley Havlat's surviving sibblings.

We're told Governor Ricketts gave a moving speech recognizing the ultimate sacrifice made by more than 400,000 Americans in World War II on VE Day.  

The governor also had strong praise for Dorchester and its sense of community, according to reports, calling the village "such a special place" that never forgot Havlat because its people care for one another, one witness said.  

The Omaha World-Herald was there to cover it.  Here's how the World-Herald story captured yesterday's event:

In a sun-splashed ceremony after a night of thunder, lightning and torrential rainfall, Havlat’s hometown commemorated the 70th anniversary of the day he became the last American soldier killed in action in Europe during World War II.

Havlat’s reconnaissance platoon was ambushed by German soldiers on a dirt road in his parents’ native Czechoslovakia. The firefight erupted nine minutes after a cease-fire order and an armistice had gone into effect on the day — May 7, 1945 — of Nazi Germany’s unconditional surrender.
Havlat suffered a mortal head wound. Neither the American nor German soldiers were aware of the cease-fire until minutes later, according to accounts of the encounter.

Standing in front of the Pfc. Charley Havlat state historical marker at the Saline County Museum, Governor Pete Ricketts said Havlat’s sacrifice is a reminder that freedom is not free. “We’re here today to honor Charley Havlat,’’ Ricketts said, “but he wasn’t alone.’’

Ricketts said Havlat was one of 33 sons of Saline County — and nearly 3,000 Nebraskans — killed during the war.  Havlat’s sacrifice and the continued sacrifices of men and women who serve in the military have secured the freedoms Americans enjoy today, Ricketts said.

The 34-year-old Havlat represented the best of Nebraska, said the governor, who made a point to aim his remarks at approximately 30 Dorchester fourth- and fifth-graders and several high school students in the crowd.

“He was more than just a soldier,’’ he said. “He was a son. He was a brother.’’ 

The eldest of six children born to a Czech couple who immigrated to the United States in the early 1900s, Charley was one of three brothers to serve in the European Theater during the war.

Ricketts said Havlat was committed to his family and community. He said Havlat would roll a wagon wheel through snow outside the family’s house in the 1930s to try to convince his younger brothers and sisters that Santa Claus had actually been there.

Havlat’s surviving sister and brother — 95-year-old Lillian Mares of Seward, Nebraska, and 89-year-old Adolph Havlat of Lincoln — attended the ceremony.  Mares later prodded Ricketts about designating the eight-mile stretch of Nebraska Highway 33 from Dorchester to Crete as the Charles Havlat Memorial Highway. The State Highway Commission rejected a similar request in 2006. Ricketts said he was aware of the issue, and his administration is working on it.

Adolph Havlat was a soldier working in Supreme Allied Headquarters in Frankfurt when he received a letter from his parents in June telling him of his brother’s death. “That wasn’t good,’’ he said. “It was worse on my mom. Her first born. It was tough for her.’’

Adolph was granted leave to hitchhike from Frankfurt to join his brother, Rudy, a soldier with a tank unit, near Wallern (now Volary), Czechoslovakia, and visit Charley’s temporary grave. Adolph said the family didn’t know until about 20 years ago that Charley was the last GI to die in combat in Europe, which was reported in a Veterans of Foreign Wars magazine.

Never married, Charley worked as a farm hand and started a trucking company with his cousin, Lumir Havlat. They were hauling grain, rocks and salt up and down Highway 33 and throughout the region when Charley was drafted in 1942.

Charley is buried at Lorraine American Cemetery near St. Avold, France. A Czech military club has placed a memorial plaque at the spot he was killed. Ricketts proclaimed Thursday as “Charles Havlat Day’’ in Nebraska.

Adolph said he and Rudy paid for a bouquet to be placed on Charley’s grave every Memorial Day for years.“It seemed like it happened yesterday,’’ Adolph said. “But it’s been 70 years. That’s a long time. Where did that 70 years go?”

Thursday, May 7, 2015

24-Hour Rainfall Amounts For Saline County

Just how rain has fallen in Saline County over the past 24 hours?

Jaw-dropping amounts, it is safe to say.

The photograph accompanying this story was taken on a submerged farm near Western, in the southern tier of Saline County.

Here are the official recorded precipitation amounts for Saline County locations as reported by the Nebraska Rainfall Assessment and Information Network (NERAIN), from May 6 through right now on May 7.

Wilber -- 4.1 miles west .............................. 9.85"
Western -- 1.2 miles SE ............................... 9.65"
Western -- 4.4 miles NNE ............................. 9.33"
Tobias -- 4.7 miles SSW ............................... 9.26"
Tobias -- 1.8 miles E .................................. 8.38"
Milford -- 5.9 miles SSE  .............................. 6.35"
Dorchester -- 2.1 miles NW .......................... 5.63"
Dorchester -- In town ................................. 4.80"
Friend -- 3.4 miles E .................................. 4.70"
Friend -- 4.8 miles SSE ................................ 4.51"

Several Area Highways Closed Due To Flooding; DeWitt Being Evacuated

After the Dorchester area received approximately 5" of rain last night and this morning -- while Lincoln received 7" and some areas of southern Saline County received over 10" -- the Associated Press is reporting that authorities say several highways and local roads have been closed because of runoff from overnight thunderstorms in southeast Nebraska.

The department says U.S. Highway 81 was closed in both directions at Hebron. 
Other closures were reported on U.S. Highway 77 south of Nebraska Highway 33.

Authorities are evacuating the Saline County town of DeWitt as water from Turkey Creek and the Big Blue River rise. The Saline County Sheriff's Office, Nebraska State Patrol and area rescue departments are taking people to a shelter at Tri-County High School south of town.

In Lancaster County, startling photos showing the Lancaster Event Center surrounded by floodwater and standing water covering the field at Haymarket Park showed the extent of Wednesday night storms in Lincoln.  (See pictures of Lincoln area flooding here.)

Law enforcement warned drivers to use extreme caution as some roads and intersections are closed by flooding and the water continues to rise in some areas.

Reports of over 10 inches came in from Swanton, 9 inches near Wilber and 8 inches at Western. 

Tri County Public Schools in DeWitt called off classes because road flooding kept buses from running their routes.  Wilber-Clatonia cancelled school for the day.

Sizeable portions of Deshler and Hebron are under water in nearby Thayer County.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Longhorn Tracksters Stand Out At CRC

Several Dorchester High School track team members made their presence know at last Saturday's Crossroads Conference held at Osceola Public Schools.

The Dorchester girls brought home five medals, with the boys winning three, as reported by the Friend Sentinel.

According to the Sentinel, for the Longhorns, the shot put was the event for the day. Bailey Velder threw 34-0 to finish second, and Avery Behrens was fifth with a throw of 33-1.

Meanwhile, Cassidy Olson won a pair of medals in the sprints, finishing fifth in the 100-meter dash in 13.5 seconds and fourth in the 200 in 28.0 seconds.

Jacee Weber placed fifth in the triple jump with a jump of 31-10.  (Ten days earlier, Weber won the triple jump at the Friend Invitational with a jump of 32-5.)

In the boys’ events, Corey Bird won two medals, placing second in the high jump at 6-3 and fifth in the long jump at 19-8. Anthony Cordova earned sixth in the discus with a throw of 122-4.

Up next for  the DHS tracksters is the Paul Underwood Invitational at McCool Junction tomorrow, Thursday, May 7. Events in the six-team meet start at 9:30 a.m., weather permitting.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Gov. Ricketts To Proclaim May 7 As PFC Charley Havlat Day

This Thursday, May 7, at 9:15 a.m., Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts will visit Dorchester and the Saline County Museum to memorialize the life and death of Private First Class Charley Havlat -- the last American G.I. killed in action in World War II's European Theater.  

The event will mark the 70th anniversary to the conclusion of WWII in Europe.

Several sources have told the Times that Gov. Ricketts will issue a proclamation, declaring May 7 PFC Charley Havlat Day in Nebraska.

If you don't know the story of PFC Havlat, a Dorchester native, his tragic end seven decades ago represents the sacrifices made by an entire generation.  His story needs to be remembered and retold.


Like thousands of other American men in the 1940s, Charles Havlat of Dorchester was sent overseas during WWII. Also like many others, PFC Havlat never made it back home, having made the ultimate sacrifice for his country.

But what makes PFC Havlat's story especially unique is that he is officially the last American soldier killed in action in the European Theater, after taking a bullet in the head while on patrol in southern Bohemia.  He was shot by Nazi soldiers who were unaware that a ceasefire had been declared. 

At 34 years old, PFC Havlat was the oldest in his family to serve in WWII, along with brothers Adolph and Rudy Havlat. 

According to a 2005 story by Radio Praha (Czech Radio), PFC Havlat was on reconnaissance in a jeep on May 7, 1945, in Czechoslovakia, when his unit was blindsided by a "hail of enemy machine gun and small arms fire from concealed positions in the woods." 

In an interview, his brother Adolph recalled that "Charley fired once at the enemy and then ducked" behind the hood of the his damaged jeep. "But he peeked back up, I guess, at the same position and they apparently had a bead right on him, so ... and he died instantly," Adolph said. "That's what I've been told, anyway."  

(Adolph Havlat plans to be at the May 7 ceremony with the governor, we are told.)

PFC Havlat's fellow soldiers returned fire until the Germans' radio operator received word nine minutes that a cease-fire order and armistice were in effect. Taken captive, the German officer who led the ambush said he did not know that a cease-fire had been declared about six hours earlier and apologized for the incident. 

The Havlat brothers were unaware of just how unlucky Charles had been until half a century later, according to the Radio Praha article. "We actually didn't hear about this until about 1995 -- that he was the last killed -- until it was published in the VFW magazine," Adolph said.

PFC Havlat is buried at the Saint Avold World War II Veteran's Cemetery near Metz, France. A military club in the Czech city of Plzen paid for a memorial plaque to be placed at the spot where he was killed. 


For years, Adolph waged an unsuccessful campaign to get part of Highway 33, which his brother traveled often as a trucker, recognized as "The Charles Havlat Memorial Highway."  

In 2008, the Dorchester American Legion, Post 264, made at least three requests to the State of Nebraska and the Department of Roads to name the small stretch of Highway 33 between Dorchester and Crete after PFC Havlat, but the request was denied. 

So in 2010, the Dorchester Area Community Foundation along with the Dorchester Legion raised more than $5,000 for a state historical marker to pay tribute to PFC Havlat and his ultimate sacrifice.

The historical marker is located on the grounds of the Saline County Museum, just off the highway that Charley Havlat traveled so often before he wore the uniform of his nation.

Dorchester Schools Honors Night Is This Tuesday

With all the distractions of the modern world, and the never-ending list of activities for kids these days, its not easy to excel in the classroom.

Those who do earn high marks at school deserve special recognition.

That's why Dorchester Public Schools will hold its annual Honors Night this Tuesday, May 5, to pay tribute to deserving junior high and high school students who have achieved academic success this school year.

Honors night for junior high students begins at 6:30 p.m. at the school.  

For high school students, ceremonies begin at 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Saline County Boasts Most Expensive Irrigated Farm Ground In Area

Farm ground is expensive.  

Now the numbers are in to prove it.

New data compiled by the Lincoln Journal Star show that Saline County has the highest priced farm ground in the area.

Even though the average price of Nebraska farmland has slipped 3% after five years of steady growth, a University of Nebraska-Lincoln survey reports that the average price for Nebraska’s farm real estate was at $3,210 per acre as of Feb. 1.

The average acre in eastern Nebraska is worth $6,570.

The price of irrigated land is worth the most, of course.

When comparing the price of ag land in our immediate area, Saline County has the highest priced ground.

In Saline County, the average acre of irrigated farm ground is $6,792.

That compares to $5,900 in Lancaster, $5,677 in Seward, and $6,125 in Gage.

For dryland farm ground, the average price per acre in Saline County is $4,262.  For grassland, it's $1,444.