Tuesday, December 8, 2015
2016 Dorchester Resolution: Sustain, Grow Our Town
2016 means it's time for new resolutions.
For Dorchester, one of our community's new year resolutions is to grow our population. We will do this by working to bring back more of our Dorchester alumni, while stressing the importance of keeping our young people.
We will also send the message to employees at the Dorchester Public Schools, the Farmers Cooperative and other Dorchester employers that they are wanted -- in fact, needed -- here.
Why this resolution? It's pretty simple.
1.) No one cares about Dorchester as much as those who've grown up here or are working here. While it's important to be accepting of all people who want to reside in our community, our priority should be those who care about our town most.
2.) Dorchester has experienced a drop in population. At last count, Dorchester has 586 residents. This is the first time since the 1980s Dorchester has dropped below 600. (We do realize some residents aren't necessarily legally present in the U.S. and did not complete Census forms.) While we can all think of ways to improve town, we need more bodies here to have skin in the game. We need leadership, resources, and people who care. A first step is to address the handful of abandoned homes that are adding to all of our property tax burdens by being run down and unoccupied; these homes need to be sold, renovated and filled or a stiff "abandonment tax" should be levied by the town board -- which needs to step up its game.
3.) Dorchester's school is currently spending around $17,000 per student a year for K-12 education. That's nearly a quarter of a million dollars -- $221,000 -- per student over his/her primary school years. Why would we make that investment only to tell a Dorchester child to move away and never come back? Parents, community leaders and school employees -- let's work with Dorchester's young people to help them shape the town of their future and tell them we want them to make Dorchester their home. This is vital to our future. (Dorchester administrators and school board members, please make sure this happens.)
We've said it before: In a crazy, nutty world today, Dorchester has a lot going for it; and it has potential to become even better. 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. A 10-minute drive from employers in Crete and Seward. And just 30 minutes to Lincoln thanks to being next to two highways and minutes from I-80.
Why wouldn't we take advantage of our situation by making Dorchester all it can be -- right now?