Sunday, January 31, 2016

NEWS ROUNDUP: Blizzard Watch, Buffalo Feed Attendance


Here is some of the latest news from Dorchester and the surrounding area:

URGENT -- Tuesday's Blizzard Watch:  Dorchester and the surrounding area are under a blizzard watch, which is in effect from Monday, 6 p.m. until  midnight Wednesday.  The National Weather Service is saying a mix of rain and snow will begin Monday afternoon before tuning to all snow by Monday evening.  Winds will be blow from the northeast up to 30 mph, with gusts of 40 mph, before dying down Tuesday night.  Visibility could be less than a quarter of a mile.  Snow accumulations: 8 inches or more.  See the latest forecast and radar images here. (UPDATE: The NWS has issued a winter storm warning for our area.  It now appears 6-10 inches will mix with 35 mph wind gusts from late tonight through early Wednesday morning.)

Nearly 400 Attend Dorchester Legion's Buffalo Feed:  Anyone passing through on Dorchester's main street Sunday would have been hard pressed to find a parking spot.  We are told via e-mail that around 400 people showed up at the Dorchester Legion's annual buffalo. Undoubtedly, this is one of the biggest and best winter events in Saline County -- made even better when the thermometer hits 50 degrees on a Sunday in late January. The Dorchester Legion, Auxiliary, Sons of American Legion and their volunteers make us proud to be from Dorchester.

Weber Feed Yards Spotlighted In AP Story: A story running on the Associated Press news wire, which covers the state and nation, talks about farmers increasingly driving heavy, large newer equipment on Nebraska's highways.  The AP reports that a bill at the Legislature has been introduced to exempt several types of farm equipment from the weight and load restrictions. County governments oppose the bill and blame the heavy machines for damaging their roads, especially "around feedlots."  The article quotes cattle producers and feedlot owners, including Dorchester's own Joel Weber, who gives the feeders' side of the story.

DeWitt's 'Operation BridgeSit' A Success:  Did you hear about the DeWitt residents who, on behalf of the DeWitt Area Recovery Team -- DART, for short -- sat in chairs above a Turkey Creek bridge to raise awareness and money for unmet needs in DeWitt following last spring's flood damage? Their bold tactics worked.  The two men raised about $6,000 over the weekend, with more money likely from a PayPal account.  Why tell you about this? Because this is the essence of small-town spirit and civic mindedness. To donate, send checks to Blue Valley Community Action, 620 Fifth St., Fairbury, NE 68352 (refer to DART in subject line).

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Reader From Dorchester, Mass. Shares His Dorchester, Neb. Stories


We get all kinds of comments at the Dorchester Times.  (Not like we did in our earlier years, mind you.  The era of Facebook and other social media outlets have definitely decreased the volume of feedback.  There was a time when 30 or more comments would follow a Times story.)

Today, draw our readers' attention to a comment left Friday night from a reader who hails from Dorchester, Massachusetts.

Mark Shortt, a native the Boston subburb, left his comment after he read our story titled, "How Did Dorchester Get Its Name?"


Mr. Shortt wrote:  "I visited your town when I worked in Hastings, Neb., and lived in Overland Park, Kan. I am from Dorchester, Mass.! A (piece of) history about Dorchester, Mass. for you all: It was the spot on which the City of Boston was founded in June 1630."

According to Mr. Shortt, Dorchester, Mass. holds a Dorchester Day celebration and parade down Dorchester Avenue the first Sunday in June to commemorate the day that Boston was found.

Mr. Shortt adds: "The local paper is the Dorchester Reporter. Interestingly (or not) it is where Mark Wahlberg and his family are from."

Then Mr. Shortt wrapped up his comments with with a story about a conversation he was having with his neighbors. "The husband said he was going to Dorchester this past summer," so Mr. Shortt "asked jokingly if he was going to Dorchester, Nebraska," figuring he knew nothing about the small community on the Plains.  "He said yes" -- Dorchester, Neb. was indeed where he was headed.  "His grandfather, whose last name was Auth, lived there."

According to Mr. Shortt, he then told his neighbor he should also visit Crete and Wilber, the Czech Capital of the United States.  

Mr. Shortt said his comments nearly knocked over the neighbor. "He was stunned I knew about your town and had actually been there."

Thanks for sharing this story, Mark. You're welcome in the other Dorchester, anytime.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Frankie The Weather Guy Calls It: Major Snow Event Headed Our Way


Unless you live in a cave, you have by now heard about or seen Frankie the Weather Guy, the YouTube sensation from Canada.  

He is calling for a massive snow storm to hit eastern Nebraska -- especially Omaha.

"Be warned, Nebraska!" Frankie exclaims. "Be prepared! ... Don't even try to go outside." 

See Frankie's video forecast here.

Frankie may have called this one correctly -- very early.  And Saline County appears to be in the cross hairs of the coming blizzard.

Major media outlets, including the Weather Channel, are saying a major snow event is headed our way by Monday evening and lasting through Tuesday.  The Lincoln Journal Star reported this afternoon that "it remains too early to accurately pinpoint where the storm will track, although forecasters are confident that someone, somewhere will see heavy snow and near-blizzard conditions next week."

The latest "best guess" is a heavy snow band from central Kansas stretching into extreme Southeast Nebraska, including Thayer, Jefferson, Saline, Gage and counties south of Nebraska Highway 2 to the east of Lincoln.

The National Weather Service is watching a system that is now near Hawaii and another near Alaska. That system is expected to hit the west coast by Sunday and then move east. The models show now is a broad area of accumulating snowfall over eastern Nebraska and western Iowa.

A NWS spokeswoman says, “We are expecting quite a bit of wind.  It looks like anywhere from 30 to 40 miles per hour with gusts higher than that.  If we get three inches of snow and get 40 mile per hour winds that is going to create white-out conditions.”  

Nebraskans are urged to prepare for the storm and adjust travel plans as needed.

Stay tuned to the Dorchester Times and our AccuWeather updates on this weather system.

DEVELOPING...

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Grant Money Available To Help Rural Businesses


Here is some interesting information sent to the Times today regarding federal grants available for rural businesses.  Keep in mind this is the federal government we're talking about, so you can be guaranteed strings are attached and preferences will be given to minority and tribal communities.  

That said, USDA Rural Development in Nebraska is seeking project proposals for the Rural Business Development Grant (RBDG) Program to support rural businesses.  RBDG funds may be used for targeted technical assistance; training and training facilities, including commercial kitchens; to conduct economic development planning; and for the establishment of revolving loan funds.  Eligible applicants include towns, communities, state agencies, non-profit corporations, Federally-recognized Tribes, and institutions of higher learning.

As an example of the use of the RBDG program, the Twin Cities Development Association (TCD) in Scottsbluff, Neb., recently received funding to create a community commercial kitchen and to provide technical assistance to food-based business entrepreneurs. The availability of a commercial kitchen will allow local food businesses the space to develop their products and access to targeted technical assistance.  These businesses will be able to expand beyond the local Farmers Markets by being able to introduce their products into larger markets such as grocery stores, restaurants and other retail outlets.

Project proposals submitted for review for state allocated RBDG funds are due by close of business, 4:30 pm, Friday, February 26, 2016. All project proposals are to be sent to Brant Richardson at brant.richardson@ne.usda.gov .  

For more information, contact Brant Richardson, brant.richardson@ne.usda.gov or (402) 437-5568; or Deborah Drbal, deborah.drbal@ne.usda.gov or (402) 437-5558.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

NEWS ROUNDUP: New Village Website Now Running


Town Website Up And Running:  As we mentioned in an earlier post, the Village of Dorchester now has an official town website.  Village board member Matthew Hoffman announced last night the site is operational. Sponsored by Nebraska Public Power District, which supplies Dorchester its wholesale electricity, the website features a list of Dorchester businesses, important numbers for village services and utilities, a listing of local events, and much more. You can see it by clicking here or visiting http://dorchesterne.com/.  We welcome this much needed service to Dorchester residents and believe it will help make for more engaged citizens.  When it comes to small town life, good communication is key -- especially from our local government.

Steak Feed Set For March 19:  A loyal reader informs us that the Dorchester Community Foundation steak feed is slated for March 19.  Mark your calendars now. This is one of the best attended events on Main Street of the year.  The Foundation is working to raise money for a new directory shelter at the Dorchester Cemetery, according to the new town website.

Your Real Life Neighbors Vs. Facebook:  One of our Times staff members recently opined that small towns nowadays are suffering from weak participation in events and organizations due to social media. He says things will only get worse.  Well, we've told this staffer about a story on the news wires that tells of a new Oxford University study that reveals most of your Facebook friends don’t care about you and probably don't even sympathize with your problems.  The study found that while most people have hundreds of Facebook friends, people can only really depend on four of them, on average.  So if you're forced to choose between your Facebook friends and people in your own community -- those who live next door, go to school with you or your kids, attend the same church as you, share the same air as you -- perhaps you should choose the latter.  We suspect you knew that already.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Looking Back: How Did Dorchester Get Its Name?


Just how did Dorchester get its name?

That's been a topic of debate in our community for decades.

According to the Dorchester centennial book, published in 1981, the railroads formed land companies soon after the government gave away “every other section of land for ten miles on each side of any track laid.”  

In December 1870, the South Platte Land Co. received ownership of the section containing present-day Dorchester after the company erected one house in the center of the section -- a step taken to “improve” the land in order to comply with the federal Homestead Act.

The section was originally platted under the name "DeWitt," but that was changed shortly thereafter by an entry in the margin of the land company’s deed book, which noted that the name of the section was indeed Dorchester.


There are varied accounts of where the name "Dorchester" came from.  A staff member of the Times reports that her great grandmother once recounted a story that our village was named after a town in southwest England.  


But a March 1967 account in The Crete News stated that Thomas Doane, the chief engineer with Burlington Railroad, named it after Boston's largest neighborhood in his native Massachusetts. The name continued the alphabetical naming of towns along the new railroad line: Berks, Crete, Dorchester, Exeter, Fairmont, Grafton, Harvard, Inland, etc.

Another account mentioned in the Dorchester centennial book came from William Ferguson of Chicago, who said that C.E. Perkins, president of Burlington Railroad, and his wife named Dorchester and other railroad communities from their parlor in Burlington, Iowa.  Mrs. Perkins was a native of the Boston area and she chose the name Dorchester for our town, according to Ferguson's explanation.


The mystery remains since the stories above are mired in controversy. It seems neither Doane nor the Perkins family had much to do with establishing the other towns along the current Burlington tracks that came to Dorchester in 1871 and runs through our community today.

If you have historical information on the naming of Dorchester, please share it with fellow readers by leaving a comment or e-mailing us at Dorchester.Times@gmail.com.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Grants Available For Low Income Homeowners


Attention to those with ties to the Dorchester village government, the Dorchester United Methodist Church, Dorchester Community Foundation, and others: The USDA is seeking applications for grants to make housing repairs for low- and very-low-income rural residents. The grants are being provided through USDA Rural Development's Housing Preservation Grant program.

Grants can be used for a variety of needs, such as repairs to resolve health or safety issues or for energy-efficiency improvements to reduce utility costs.

Eligible applicants for Housing Preservation Grants (HPG) include town or county governments, public agencies, and non-profits, such as a church or foundation.

USDA does not provide funding directly to homeowners under this program. 

More information on the pre-application and the application process may be accessed at: http://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/housing-preservation-grants/ne under the “Forms and Resources” tab.  

The deadline for receipt of all pre-applications is 5:00 p.m. CST on March 15, 2016.

For HPG questions or to request an application, please contact Jerry Pesek, Multi Family Housing Specialist at 402-437-5566 or by email at Jerry.Pesek@ne.usda.gov.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

New Video Shows Dorchester At Harvest Time


Dorchester is not the sleepy, "nothing-is-going-on-here" community some say it is. 

That is especially true at harvest -- when area farmers are putting in 18-hour days.

New video shot by a drone from high in the sky give us a new bird's eye perspective on just how bustling our community is during the autumn.  

(UPDATE: We received notice of this video of Dorchester farmer Ron Barak, as well.  The video was shot by DHS alum Brett Boller and his DJI Phantom 3 Pro Drone.)

The just-released video, which has gone viral on social media, also gives an interesting perspective on how the commodities that fuel our area economy move from the fields to the elevators. 

The video can be seen at the Farmers Cooperative Facebook page, or by clicking here.

This follows earlier fly-over footage released in January 2015 that captured the essence of daily life in Dorchester -- from the trains moving parallel to Highway 6, to the shiny new water tower, to the vehicles on main street, to the activity at the Co-op fueling station, to construction at the Farmers Cooperative headquarters.

We aren't sure who filmed the videos and set them to inspiring music.  But we commend the Farmers Cooperative for posting the footage, especially since the cooperative is responsible for much of our community's commercial activity and growth.

This video makes all of us quite proud of our town.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Get Off Your Butt -- Attend Dorchester Foundation Meeting Tuesday Night, 7 PM


You say you want Dorchester to thrive.  You say you want improvements made to the community.  You say you care.

Well then, it's time to get off your butt and be part of the Dorchester Community Foundation, which is meeting this Tuesday, January 19, at 7 p.m. at the Dorchester Community Building.

You don't have to be a resident of Dorchester to attend; you simply have to care about the town and its future.

A non-profit organization, the Dorchester Community Foundation has been instrumental in various projects around town.  These include the city park's new playground equipment and picnic shelter; annual scholarships; the Charlie Havlat Memorial at the Saline County Museum; and the popular steak and chicken/hamburger feeds. 

The Foundation's most recent projects are the new welcome sign along Highway 33, as well as the welcome signs on the village light poles.

For more information about Monday's meeting, or how to contribute to the Foundation, contact chairman Dale Hayek at 402-641-4075 or dhayek@farmersco-operative.com.

NEWS ROUNDUP: Marquee, Town Website, Superintendent Kubicek


Here is some of the latest Dorchester news:

New Marquee Coming Soon:  We have been told by more than one source that the Dorchester Village Board has approved the purchase of a new electronic message board, which will be installed in the coming weeks if the weather cooperates.  Keno funds will pay for the unit, we are told.  Installed in the spring of 2007, the current orange-and-black electronic sign that now graces Dorchester's Main Street median has been inoperable due to electronic issues since early December.  The addition of an electronic marquee has added liveliness to main street and has served as an effective method of mass communication.  We look forward to the new sign.

New Town Website Being Developed:  As we mentioned in an earlier post, Dorchester Village Clerk and Treasurer Gloria Riley communicated with the Times to say that an official town website will soon be unveiled.  We welcome this news and believe it will help make for more informed Dorchester residents and more engaged citizens.  When it comes to small town life, good communication is key.  There's no better source on Village of Dorchester issues than the village board and staff.

DPS Superintendent Departing At End Of School Year:  It is with regret we inform readers that Dorchester Public School Superintendent Mitch Kubicek last week announced his resignation from DPS effective at the end of the school year.  That's according to well-placed sources.  Kubicek has been part of the DPS community since 2008, right when the new school opened its doors for the first time.   He recently completed his doctoral program at UNL.  DPS will not only miss the administrative expertise offered by Kubicek, but will also miss the leadership provided by his wife Kylie and him for student activities and athletics.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

32 Years Ago: The DHS Team That Was One Shot From State


Some in our area have made quite a fuss over the future of DHS basketball, wondering if Dorchester's teams can ever "turn it around." 

They forget that fortunes in sports, like life in general, can turn on a dime.  Point and case: the DHS boys team of 32 years ago -- the team that wouldn't quit.

The 1983-84 DHS boys basketball squad will forever be known as the Longhorn team that was a shot away from the Class C-2 State Tournament -- just one second away from a chance to play in the Devaney.  

Moreover, the team's success launched the start of a six-year run in which Dorchester became known for its prowess in boys basketball, appearing regularly in the top-ten rankings for Class C-2.

But go back to the beginning of that season thirty years ago, and the Longhorns didn't start off looking like state-worthy material.  

Dorchester lost their season opener by 55 points to a feisty C-1 team in Henderson that put 98 points on the board.  In fact, the Longhorns won only two of its first seven contests. The situation was dour for the struggling program.

But then DHS, coached by Larry Gish and Scott Pohl, found some magic.  The team would go on to win 10 of its next 13 games, capturing the district title by knocking off Palmyra and emerging power Lincoln Christian.  

The Longhorns were led by junior Lyle Weber, who would receive all-state accolades for his efforts, along with seniors Dean Slepicka, Bob Wolesensky, Eddie Moore, Brad Hohensee, and junior Neal Pavlish -- a fan favorite.

The 1984 Class C-2 regional game pitted DHS against a top-notch Humboldt team.  The winner would go onto state.  

A last-second desperation shot by a Humboldt player, who unloaded from half court, dealt the Longhorns a season-ending defeat that would be talked about for years to come.  

Little did Longhorn fans know then, however, that just one season later the DHS boys would make it to the Class C-2 State Tournament.

And little did the DHS players of that 1983-84 season know then that three decades later folks would still be talking about their efforts -- and about the Longhorn team that wouldn't quit.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

WEATHER ALERT: Wind Chill Could Hit -35 Sunday


The AP is reporting that frigid temperatures will combine with winds to make for some dangerously low wind chills in Nebraska tonight and all of Sunday.

The National Weather service says temperatures dip into the single digits Saturday and will hover around zero for much of Sunday.

Winds of 10 to 20 mph will produce wind chills of between 5-below zero to as low as 30-below in our region of Nebraska overnight. In northern Iowa, where a wind chill warning has been issued, residents could see wind chills as low as 35-below.  In the Dorchester area, expect actual temperatures to hit -5 degrees or lower.

Weather officials warn that wind chills that low can lead to frostbite within minutes for any exposed skin.  Residents are asked to stay in heated areas and bundle up if they must head outside.

Dorchester's Max Harling Passes At 82


Longtime Dorchester resident and business owner Max D. Harling passed away Thursday at St. Elizabeth Medical Center in Lincoln at the age of 82 years 11 months and 9 days.  He was a Korean War veteran and Purple Heart recipient.

A funeral will be 10 a.m. Monday, January 18, at the United Methodist Church, Dorchester with Pastor Thomas Tennant officiating. Interment will be in Dorchester Cemetery with military services conducted by the U.S. Marine Corps and Dorchester American Legion. The family will receive family and friends for one hour prior to the service on Monday at the church.  Memorials have been established to the Dorchester American Legion or to the Wilber Care Center.  Honorary pallbearers are Shelly Bruha and Ike McKim. 

Max Dale Harling was born February 5, 1933 on a farm southeast of Friend to James and Bernice (Aitken) Harling, the second of four children.  As a boy, Max moved with family to California and several locations in Nebraska and Wyoming. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps on February 9, 1951, in Cheyenne, WY and was discharged on February 9, 1954, at El Toro, Santa Ana, California. While serving during the Korean Conflict, he received the Purple Heart on two separate occasions, along with several other medals. Returning from Korea, Max began his employment career at Klippenstein Implement in Friend and furthered his education earning a degree in Diesel Technology from Milford Technical School in 1959. On July 20, 1963, Max was united in marriage to Sharon Dee Rose and to this union a daughter, Rebecca, and a son, Patrick, were born, along with an infant son who passed away at birth. 

From 1962 until 1988, Max was employed at Crete Implement and later was self-employed at “Brand X Repair” in Dorchester until he retired in 1995. He was a member of the VFW #4959 in Crete, American Legion Post #264 in Dorchester and the Disabled American Veterans. 

Max is survived by his daughter Rebecca Harling and her husband, Buck Boje, of North Platte, his son, Patrick Harling, Fergus Falls, MN, a granddaughter, Samantha Rose Harling, Moorhead, MN, his brother and sister-in-law, Gary and Gail August, and his sister and brother-in-law, Carol and Ed Zak, and a number of nieces and nephews. 

He was preceded in death by his parents, James Harling and Bernice August and his step-father, Floyd August, an infant son, his wife Sharon in 1989, two sisters, Virginia Inderlied and Melva Johnson, and a brother, Noel Harling.

You may leave your condolences online by clicking here.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Nominate Dorchester Fire Dept. For Grain Rescue Award


In conjunction with Grain Bin Safety Week (Feb. 21 – 27, 2016), Nationwide is teaming up with the  National Education Center for Agricultural Safety (NECAS) to award first responders with grain bin rescue tubes and specialized grain rescue training to help save lives when farmers and other workers become entrapped in grain bins.

We are encouraging Dorchester Times readers to nominate the Dorchester Volunteer Fire Dept. and Rescue for this award.

Rural fire fighters are often the first and only line of defense when someone becomes helplessly trapped in a grain bin. Unfortunately, many fire departments lack the specialized rescue techniques and equipment necessary for a successful grain bin rescue.  

Each winning entry will be awarded:  
  • One (1) grain rescue tube, valued between $3,000 to $5,000
  • One (1) six-hour grain entrapment rescue training session, at winner’s location, valued at up to $5,000
The exact number of winners and prizes will not be known until the contest closes, and will depend upon the donations and generosity of our partners. Learn how you can partner with us to help save lives.

The contest begins on Jan 1, 2016 at 8 a.m. CT and ends May 31, 2016 at 11:59 p.m. CT.   

To enter, fully describe how the department or emergency rescue team and rural community would benefit from grain entrapment training and rescue tube, and how they plan to share the tube and training with nearby departments. Include your name, occupation, phone number, mailing and email address, the name, address and phone number of the fire department or team.

Nationwide is accepting nominations from the general public. And fire fighters can nominate their own fire department.  You can submit your nomination in one of three ways: online, via email or by mail. 

Email: agcontest@nicc.edu
Mail: NECAS, Grain Bin Safety Ag Contest, 8342 NICC Dr., Peosta, IA 52068

Limit one (1) entry per person, per email address and per household or department.  For more details, click here.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Bernice Weber Celebrates 80th Birthday


Dorchester's Bernice Weber is celebrating her 80th birthday.

Her family ran the following in the Lincoln Journal Star yesterday, Jan. 10:  "This very energetic mother of three, grandmother of nine, and great-grandmother of six certainly isn't slowing down. 

"After working almost 50 years at the Dorchester Bank, she currently is in the office part-time for the Village of Dorchester, along with being active in her church. 

"Please help her celebrate with a card shower to 419 County Rd. 1400, Dorchester, NE 68343.  

"With all our love, Phil, Larry, Lori, Lyle and families."

Happy 80th to Bernice!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

TONIGHT: Soup Supper Set For Tuesday For BB Games Vs. Friend


The Times has learned that Dorchester's Elementary Parents Advisory Committee (EPAC) and Future Business Leaders of America plan to sponsor a free will donation soup supper during the basketball games with Friend High School this coming Tuesday, Jan. 12, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. 

The groups need donations of soup -- probably around five gallons of both varieties of soup.  

EPAC volunteers say they will be having chili and chicken noodle. 

It is requested the the soup recipes be simple since volunteers will be mixing the donated soups.

Those wanting to help or bring soup to the school should arrive Tuesday between 3:30 p.m. and 4:00 p.m.

EPAC volunteers also report they will need four parent volunteers to help with serving -- two people from 5:00-6:30 and two people from 6:30-8:00. 

FBLA students will be having concessions that night, so they will be there to help, as well, and will be taking care of cleanup. 

Those interested should contact Kylie Kubicek or call the school at (402) 946-2781.

EPAC is overseen by parents and the school to help DPS teachers and students with classroom supplies, while also advancing the academic pursuits of Dorchester's elementary students. 

Monday, January 11, 2016

Question For Area Schools: More Focus On Vocational Skills?


Here is a plea to local school administrators and board members: let's start focusing more on giving young people real vocational skills before they head out into the work world.

In his column in Industrial Distribution, Jack Keough laments the aging state of the America's manufacturing workforce.  The article notes that 2 million jobs in the sector will likely go unfilled over the next decade, but that “only three out of 10 parents would encourage their kids into manufacturing as a career.” 

Think about how many of your electronics, plastics, tools, clothing, cosmetics -- and even food -- are now made overseas.  

Then think about how many 20- or 30-somethings you know without a job or who are underemployed working a low-paying service sector job.

Apple CEO Tim Cook's recent comments regarding how the United States, "over time, began to stop having as many vocational kind of skills."  It's one of the reasons Apple must outsource the manufacturing of its many gadgets to China.  In short, Cook said Chinese workers have more skills than American laborers.

A recent study by the Manufacturing Institute found that Gen Y (ages 19-33 years) respondents ranked manufacturing last as a career choice.  

This despite the fact that every job in manufacturing creates another 2.5 new jobs.  This despite the fact that nearly one-third so-called "Millennials" are living at home or with a relative, even as some approach their mid-thirties. (Read that again if you're not shaking your head.)

Students, parents and school officials -- from top administrators to counselors to board members -- should recognize the surging demand for skilled labor in America, especially in our part of the country.

Students who obtain a certified trade skill tend to:

  • Graduate with little or no debt.
  • Make more money right out of high school or community college.  (Hard-working young welders are making over $100,000 in many cases.)
  • Have more job offers.
  • Keep jobs longer.
  • Own their own businesses and set their own hours, if they want to.

Knowing this, and knowing the foreseeable job market, why aren't more public schools expanding their technical and vocational training? 

Why aren't more parents and schools recognizing the changing economy, which no longer provides enough service sector jobs for people with liberal arts four-year degrees and $100,000 in student debt?

And perhaps most importantly, why would any 30-year-old still want to live with mommy and daddy?

Friday, January 8, 2016

OUR COMMENTARY: Call Village Office About Marquee, Not The Times



UPDATE:  At 2 p.m. Friday, the Times received this update from Gloria Riley, Dorchester village clerk and treasurer.  Ms. Riley wrote: "I understand there are questions concerning the Marquee. We are waiting on a company to install a new one. Please be patient. A new village website is in the works. More information to follow when available."

Good communication is key.  We can all agree on that.  

Customers like to be kept in the loop with updates from businesses.  Parents appreciate notifications and constant contact from school officials.  

And community residents want to be updated from their city officials and organizations. 

That's why we agree with readers who've told us they want Dorchester's electronic marquee back on.

Installed in the spring of 2007, the orange-and-black electronic sign that now graces Dorchester's Main Street median displays the date, time and temperature, while also announcing upcoming town events and special messages, including birthday greetings to residents. The new marquee has not only added some extra livliness to Washington Avenue, it has served as an effective method of mass communication.

The marquee has not been operating for the past month.  

But complaints to the Times won't help. We're just a blog. 

Call the village office (402-946-3201) to connect with the folks who can do something about it.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Southeast Nebraska As Earthquake Country? You Bet


Southeast Nebraska has long been considered part of "Tornado Alley." The real threat of devastating twisters is just one of the facts of life of living in the Cornhusker State.

But what about earthquakes?

We've all heard about the rapid surge in earthquakes in Oklahoma in recent history.  In 2015, 907 quakes of magnitude 3.0 or greater were reported in Oklahoma, up from 584 in 2014. There were only 42 such earthquakes in the state in 2010 and 1 such tremor in 2005.

So could such quakes hit here? The answer is "yes."

The Humboldt Fault Zone is a normal fault or series of faults that extends from Nebraska southwestwardly through most of Kansas -- all the way to Oklahoma City.  The Humboldt line is close enough to the Dorchester that we would certainly feel the impact of a major quake.  

Most of the impact of a quake in southeastern Nebraska would likely do the most damage in southeast Nebraska up north to the Platte River area in Cass County, according to historical records.


Now keep in mind that Nebraska (and Kansas, for that matter) is not particularly earthquake prone, ranking near the bottom of the 50 states by damage caused.

When it comes to potential for damage, northwest Nebraska claims the highest probability in our state.

But also remember this: The Humboldt Fault had the largest earthquake in Kansas history with the 1867 Manhattan, Kansas earthquake. It happened near the town of Wamego and was estimated at about 5.5 on the Richter scale. Reportedly it was felt as far away as Dubuque, Iowa. 

Had Dorchester been around then, we're quite certain residents then would have felt it, too.

During the 1800's, Nebraska was the sight of some rather strong quakes, with one in 1811 in New Madrid, which registered an 8.1 and produced thousands of aftershocks. The earthquake was felt as far away as Washington, D.C. In strength, this quake superseded an 1877 quake, which is considered the largest quake on record and did serious damage in Lincoln and Omaha.


An article in "Nebraska Life" magazine reports that the New Madrid Fault Zone "is at greater risk of earthquakes that any location east of the Rocky Mountains."

There is speculation among experts that there is a connection between the Nebraska plates and others in the U.S. -- even in Alaska.

In March, 1964, there was a 9.2 quake in Prince William Sound, Alaska. This was the strongest earthquake ever recorded in the U.S., measuring 9.2 on the Richter scale. Merriman, Nebraska, on the same day, had four quakes, each about four minutes apart, which registered at 5.1 and impacted a 90,000 square mile area. This same scenario has occurred several times.

This information is being shared with you, our readers, just as scientists have warned the world is in "volcano season" and there is up to a 10% chance of an eruption soon killing millions of people and devastating the planet.  One of the most concerning is the super-volcano at Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, which has a caldera measuring 34 by 45 miles (55 by 72 km) -- a much bigger threat to the survival of humans than asteroids, earthquakes, nuclear war and so-called "man-made global warming."

Of course if the volcano at Yellowstone blows, we can all forget about buying green bananas.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Former Dorchester Area Resident John Springer Passes


The Albany (Oregon) newspaper reports that John David Springer, a former resident of the Dorchester area, passed away Saturday.  Springer was born Nov. 7, 1926, on a farm north of Milford, Nebraska, to Jake and Lillie (Stauffer) Springer. He went to his heavenly home after a short battle with cancer on Jan. 2, 2016.

John attended a country school as a boy and later graduated with the class of 1944 from Milford High School. He accepted Christ as his personal savior and was baptized at East Fairview Mennonite Church. John was united in marriage to Margie Kremer on March 2, 1947, and they made their home on a farm in rural Dorchester, Nebraska, where he enjoyed farming and running a small dairy for a number of years. John had a gift to fix anything that was broken.

In 1979 John and Margie headed west and made a new home in Lebanon. While in Oregon, John was employed at Farwest Farmers Seed Company and later Servco Plumbing, Heating and Cooling. In his retirement years he loved working for Howard Ropp operating a harvester and harvesting pumpkins.

Survivors include his wife, Margie; children and spouses Randy and Donna Springer of Lebanon, Cindy and Ken Richins of Keizer, Tim and Jeanie Springer of Dorchester, Nebraska, Rhonda and Don Bayne of Albany, and Lisa and Les Morton of Albany; 11 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren with the 11th due soon.

John was preceded in death by his parents and brothers Larry and Robert.

At the time of his death he was a member of Fusion Faith Center in Albany.

John donated his body to Western University of Health Sciences for teaching and scientific research.

A memorial service will be at 2 p.m. Jan. 12 at the Fusion Faith Center, 241 First St. W., Albany.

Memorials have been established by the family for Water-4-Haiti Ministries.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Journal Star Reports On Loss Of County Emergency Coordinator Fictum


The Lincoln Journal Star reports on the recent decision by the Saline County Board to terminate the
appointment of longtime Emergency Management Coordinator B.J. Fictum.  

For our readers who have worked with B.J., including our volunteer firefighters and rescue personnel, here are excerpts from the Journal Star's story.

.....

For nearly 25 years, Saline County paid B.J. Fictum to be the calm in its storms.


The emergency manager ordered the evacuation of DeWitt in May as floodwater threatened to swallow the town. He coordinated the recovery of Wilber and Clatonia in 2004 after the Hallam tornado damaged dozens of homes.


He was there when 4,000 gallons of anhydrous ammonia were released near Swanton, and when Turkey Creek spilled over its banks, and whenever potent clouds gathered over Southeast Nebraska.


“But that came to a screeching halt Tuesday when the Saline County Board of Commissioners decided not to reappoint me,” he wrote last week on his Facebook page from his room at Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital in Lincoln, where he’s recovering from an illness.


....


The 51-year-old has been hospitalized since early December -- first at Bryan East Campus and then at Madonna -- with cellulitis and a blood infection. He learned he was out of a job when the board chairwoman called him after the vote, he said.


“It was quite a shock. The only thing that does upset me is they tried to do this while I was in the hospital.”


He had expected the board’s reappointment vote in January and was planning to attend. He wouldn’t elaborate, but said there were “hints here and there” the action was looming.


Fictum joined the county in 1992, when the office was known as civil defense.


“The director needed a little help and I volunteered to help him. And boy, it’s been an interesting 23 years.”


That first year, a tornado hit the center of the county, near Dorchester. The next year, the DeWitt area was the target of a so-called flornado, he said -- a tornado followed by a flood.


....


He’s watched as natural disasters have caused up to $10 million in damage in Saline County.


But they haven’t killed anybody. And Fictum credits his office’s ability to alert residents of threatening weather -- through the use of storm-spotters -- and its efforts to teach them how to handle it.

He’s proud of Saline County’s annual Severe Weather Seminar, which drew about 20 people when it started in 1993 but can now attract more than 300 from around the region.


“We’ve probably educated a couple of thousand people in that time,” he said.


......


Fictum wasn’t sure what he’ll do next, after he’s released from Madonna on Thursday. He intends to keep covering high school sports for the Crete News, and he’s considering starting a group called Saline Weather Services.


But he’ll continue to watch the weather, he said, and email warnings to those who want them.


Saturday, January 2, 2016

Polka Party Is Sunday At Dorchester Legion


Are you ready to party to polka?

Back by popular demand, the Dorchester American Legion this coming Sunday, Jan. 10, will once again host a polka dance at the Legion Hall.

According to an e-mail sent to the Times, polka queen Angie Kriz and her PolkaToons will show you how polka was meant to be played. 

Sunday's event will kick off at 4:00 p.m. and continue until 8:00 p.m. 

Only a $5 cover charge and the Dorchester Legion kitchen will be open. So plan to have dinner at the Legion.

Free will donations will be accepted.

Proceeds will go to the Dorchester American Legion.

And here's a little trivia for some of you with curious minds: Polka originated as a Czech peasant dance. Historic folklore has it that a peasant girl named Anna Slezak invented the steps one day for her own amusement.  The word “pulka” is derived from the Czech phrase for “half-step,” which refers to the dance pattern of lightly stepping from one foot to the other.


Friday, January 1, 2016

2015 Was A Year Of Housing Improvements In Dorchester


Last year was a year in which many Dorchester homeowners worked hard to maintain and improve the appearance of their homes.

The Times staff makes every attempt to travel often throughout eastern and central Nebraska, to see how Dorchester compares to other towns under 1,500.  The keys to a great community are the people who live there and the pride they show in their homes, as well as the relationships they have with their neighbors.

While we would love to see paving on every Dorchester street -- and while we would love to see a coordinated, official plan in place to fill every commercial building -- we know that the first key to our high quality of life is our people and the quality of homes they live in. (For example, note the three homes just north of Barley's Specialties on main street.  The owners of those homes have done a great job in making improvements.)

The pictures accompanying this post is a tribute to just a few of some of the home owners who have done a great job improving their homes.  (We simply don't have space to recognize every nice looking home in town.)  In doing so, they are making life better for all of us in Dorchester.  

There are still more than a handful of properties in town that are in disrepair. The owners of such properties are sometimes stretched to come up with the resources (money and/or physical capacity) to repair their homes. 

For those low-income homeowners, we want to make readers aware of a grant program administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development 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.

Or visit http://www.rd.usda.gov/ne.  You may also contact Single Family Housing Specialist Krista Mettscher at 402-437-5518, krista.mettscher@ne.usda.gov.