Friday, September 30, 2016

Crete Plans Great Pumpkin Festival This Sunday, Oct. 2


For years now, the Dorchester Times has advocated bringing back our community's fall festival -- not only as a great event for locals, but as a way to bring in out-of-towners.

We are pleased to see that next-door neighbor Crete is planning its first-ever "Great Pumpkin Festival" set for this Sunday, Oct. 2.


According to a great website created just for this event, Crete leaders are working hard to harvest pumpkins for the town's Great Pumpkin Festival.  


The Great Pumpkin Festival is being hosted by the Crete Chamber of Commerce this Sunday, from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. on Crete's Main Street. It will be a day full of autumn fun. Among the planned activities are: 
  • Hayrack rides;
  • Carnival games;
  • Food court;
  • Great Pumpkin Giveaway;
  • Craft Show and Farmer's Market;
  • Petting Zoo; 
  • Antique Tractor Show; 
  • Zipline and Bouncy Houses; 
  • Walk-Ability Treasure Map; 
  • Great Pumpkin Competition;
  • Pumpkin Drop;
  • Scarecrow Competition;
  • Live Entertainment;
  • Pumpkin Pie Eating Contest;
  • Festival PiƱatas.
Winners of the Scarecrow and Pumpkin Competitions can earn Crete Cash.

The Dorchester Times has been asked to especially urge readers to participate in the tractor show, which will be held from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Both antique tractors and newer tractors are welcome.

For more information about the festival or to become more involved, visit cretepumpkinfest.com or contact Kayleigh Schadwinkel at cretechamber@gmail.com.

See more at www.cretepumpkinfest.com

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Looking Back: Dorchester's Elmwood Pony Farm (And Rodeo)



Today we look back at one of the most intriguing pieces of Dorchester's past: The Thompson Elmwood Pony Farm. 

Owned and operated by Colonel W.J. Thompson, the Elmwood Pony Farm was located in the northeast corner of Dorchester. The farm sat on present day 10th Street, between Lincoln and Fulton Avenues -- home of the present-day "The Well" spa and health business.

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 dodgers, concessions, rides, dancing and "whoopee." 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 chapter in the history book of our community.

Friday, September 23, 2016

NEWS ROUND-UP: Community BBQ, Church Auction Are This Sunday



Here's what is trending in the Dorchester area right now:
  • BBQ, Auction And Pie-In-The Face Contest Are This Sunday: Dorchester United Methodist Church’s Annual Community Auction will be held this Sunday, Sept. 25, 2016.  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 barbecue from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.  The auction starts at 1 p.m. and will continue through approximately 4 p.m.  There will be numerous auction items that will be of special interest. Novak Auction Service will be taking the bidding.  (NOTE: Items up for auction can be seen here.)  The event will feature another "Pie In the Face" contest.  Please vote (with a monetary donation) for your favorite local celebrity at either City Slickers or the church. This year's pie-in-the-face celebrities are: Brent Zoubek, Michelle Kotas, Pastor Baptista and Troy Novak.
  • Job Openings Now In Dorchester At Farmers Cooperative: Farmers Cooperative in Dorchester has recently listed two job openings for their facility here in town.  The positions are for scale operator and general laborer.  See the co-op's full listings by clicking here.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Forecast: Record-Late First Frost Expected Nov. 10-12


Endless summer.

That is how we currently describe the prolonged heat and humidity wave that has Saline County -- and much of the rest of Nebraska -- feeling more like the tropics than it should in mid- to late-September.

For those of you excited for the season's first frost, you have a long wait.

According to the Dorchester Times forecasting and research, the first killing frost won't hit Saline County until November 10, 11 or 12.  

That's more than seven weeks away.

If our prediction holds true, it will set a record for the latest first frost ever recorded in our area.  

The current record for latest first frost for our area is Nov. 7, 1956, as some of our readers might recall.  (Note: The first frost record for Omaha is even later, occurring on Nov. 13, 1915.)

While nighttime lows will drop into the 30s before then, our long-range predictions (using AccuWeather and a few other forecasting services) show that the Dorchester area is going to be much warmer than average this early autumn.

As a point of reference, the average first frost date for our area is Oct. 12.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

More Reports Of Mountain Lions In Our Area


Back in August 2012, the Dorchester Times received a letter from a local resident who said she had spotted a mountain lion approximately 3.5 miles northwest of town near the West Fork of the Big Blue River.  

Today, the Associated Press is reporting that a York County woman has reported that her dog tangled with a mountain lion at her home south of Waco.

The York News-Times reports that the woman told the York County Sheriff's Department Tuesday that she and her husband had heard a commotion outside the night before and that she saw her dog fighting an animal when she went outside to check.

She says the big cat ran off when her husband shined a light on it. The dog wasn't seriously injured.


The woman is all but certain what she saw was a mountain lion, but the sighting hasn't confirmed.


Authorities have taken several reports of mountain lions in the county -- just northwest of Saline County -- but most have not been confirmed.


Mountain lions, which also are called cougars or pumas, have turned up as far east in Nebraska as Omaha.

What should you do if you do encounter a mountain lion? The experts with the National Parks Service say:
  • Remain calm! Enjoy the sighting.
  • Never run from a mountain lion. No one can outrun a mountain lion.
  • Do not crouch down; the lion has seen you long before you saw it.
If you happen to encounter a lion acting aggressively:
  • You must convince the lion that you are not prey and that you pose a threat to the animal.
  • If you have small children with you, pick them up and do all that you can to appear large -- hold your arms out.
  • Hold your ground, wave your arms, shout! If the lion still behaves aggressively, throw rocks at it.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Looking Back: Johnson's Texaco Garage And Gas Station


It's the World War II era and you are one of the lucky ones who aren't serving overseas.  

Although gasoline is rationed all across America, it's your day for a fill up.  

What do you do? 

One option is Roy Johnson's Texaco Service Station, which operated about seven decades ago in Dorchester.

Sharon Tesar Johnson‎ shared this photo with us on our Facebook page.  Sharon noted that the station was "a longtime business in Dorchester."  

She added that Roy Johnson and his brother Bill ran this family business.

"It was located in the west part of town, close to the railroad tracks," Tesar Johnson writes.


Sunday, September 18, 2016

NEWS ROUND-UP: Ben Haufle Lands 31 Pound Catfish


Ben Haufle Lands Monster Catfish: This past weekend, Dorchester's Ben Haufle, owner of Ben's Iron Salvage, reportedly hauled in a 31-pound flathead catfish. Now, that's not close to Nebraska's record catch for a flathead, which stands at 80 lbs. (CORRECTION: Thanks to readers, we note that Ben's catch qualifies him as a master angler by more than 15 lbs.)  He can be proud because many fishermen go a lifetime without catching a fish that large. No word yet on Haufle's secret fishing hole.

Bob Zoubek Gets Recognized By Omaha Newspaper:  It’s that time of year when the Omaha World-Herald congratulates the region's best race drivers who have won track championships in Nebraska.  Dorchester's Bob Zoubek won the modifieds at Eagle Raceway, continuing his legacy in the sport.

Follow Your Favorite Dorchester Restaurant On Facebook: With Dorchester's weekend traffic up more than 500% since two months ago -- and up over 1,000% on Sunday nights -- the village's main street is rocking.  It's due to City Slickers' (formerly Joe's Place) renovation and transformation into a full-scale restaurant, along with the addition of the popular Big T's BBQ Pit Stop, which includes full breakfast menus on weekend mornings.  Both of these eateries are hoping and rate as the most popular restaurants in Saline County -- with folks coming from Lancaster, Seward, Jefferson, Gage and York Counties to sample the good eatings that Dorchester main street has to offer.  You can follow both restaurants' active Facebook feeds.  Click here for Big T's BBQ Pit Stop.  And click here for City Slickers.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Saline County History: Earliest Settlers Came 158 Years Ago


The Hunt Cabin was the home of early settler J.S. Hunt and his family.
Years before Nebraska was a state, pioneers were already establishing thriving communities in the territory -- and not all of them were along the Missouri River.

So who were some of Saline County's earliest settlers? 

According to Andreas' History of the State of Nebraska, the first European Americans to lay down roots in Saline County arrived here in 1858.  

Among those first pioneers were E. Frink, who located on Turkey Creek, near the present site of Pleasant Hill, and Victor Vifquain, who located in the northeast part of the county, not far from where Crete now stands.  

Records show Vifquain was most likely the first permanent settler in the county.

Soon after, Tobias Castor arrived and established a post office at Blue Island, which was approximately mile to the south of present day Wilber.

The photo accompanying this story is of a painting that many readers will recognize from the Saline County courthouse.  It hangs outside the county treasurer's office.  Entitled "The Hunt Cabin, Blue Island, Saline County, Nebr." and completed in 1861 by Jack Tobias, the Hunt cabin was the home of early settler J.S. Hunt and his family.

Others immediately following Vifquain, Frink, Hunt and Castor were:  William Stanton, James Johnston, Jonas Gilbert, John Tucker, J. C. Bickle, William Remington, William Wall, among others.

By January 1863, the number of families settled in the county was 15, according to Andreas' historical account.  The population of Saline County grew from 39 in 1860 to 3,106 in 1870, three years after Nebraska became a state.

Ten years later, in 1880, the county population stood at 14,943 -- about 700 more than resided here in 2010.  The Dorchester precinct was home to more than 950.  The Pleasant Hill precinct claimed 1,013.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Church Auction, BBQ And Pie-In-The-Face Contest Set For Sept. 25


Dorchester United Methodist Church’s Annual Community Auction will be held Sunday, Sept. 25, 2016.

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.  

The event will feature the second annual "Pie In the Face" contest.  Please vote (with a monetary donation) for your favorite local celebrity at either City Slickers or the church. This year's pie-in-the-face celebrities are: Brent Zoubek, Michelle Kotas, Pastor Baptista and Troy Novak.

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.

All Times' readers are encouraged to enjoy the first official weekend of fall by supporting the community's church and the good work of its members by contributing at this Sept. 25 auction.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

NEWS ROUND-UP: Cemetery Directory Completed; DHS Is A Contender In Class D-2


Here's what is trending in the Dorchester area right now:

Cemetery Directory And Shelter Finished: The Dorchester Community Foundation has completed its latest project -- a directory and shelter for the Dorchester Cemetery.  This structure will help loved ones and friends find the burial site of those who have been laid to rest in our community's cemetery.  We have learned from Foundation members that approximately $16,000 was raised for this  project, most of which was through an engraved brick sponsorship program. The Foundation for more than a decade has raised funds for worthy projects to enhance Dorchester's quality of life.  Contributions to the Foundation are deductible for income and estate tax purposes.  You may consider giving cash, outright gifts (including bushels of grain), memorial gifts, deferred gifts, gift annuity or real estate.

Methodist Church Auction Is Sept. 25: Get ready for the Dorchester Methodist Church's annual auction.  It's set for Sunday, Sept. 25.  We've heard this year's auction will even feature a "pie-in-the-face" contest featuring Michelle Kotas, Brent Zoubek, Troy Novak and  Pastor Baptista.  Details are emerging.

Lady Longhorns Are Contenders In Journal Star's Rankings:  According the Lincoln Journal Star's new high school volleyball rankings, DHS is listed as a contender in Class D-2, essentially coming in at No. 12.  Meanwhile, Hampton (7-0), which handily dispatched Dorchester (5-2) last week, is now ranked No. 1, while nearby Exeter-Milligan (7-2) is No. 2. Giltner has dropped from the D-2 rankings since losing to DHS last Thursday. 


Nebraska Now Among Most Obese States:  We're not bragging, but a new report says Nebraska has moved from 20th to 14th place among the nation’s most obese states.  The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation says obesity remains an epidemic nationwide and finds the treatment of consequences from obesity costs Americans $150,000,000,000 a year.  The report found the percentage of Nebraskans who are considered obese rose from 30.2% to 31.4%. 
Nebraskans have become progressively fatter over the decades. Nebraska’s adult obesity rate is up from 20.1% in 2000 and from 11.3% in 1990.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Sunday Brings Legion's Auction In Downtown Dorchester


Autumn is auction time in Nebraska.  And a big one is coming to Dorchester this Sunday.

According to social media accounts, the Dorchester American Legion will hold a large consignment auction beginning at 1:30 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 11 as a fundraiser for the organization.

The Legion's Facebook account reports there will be "rifles, shotguns, jon boats, travel trailers, a Harley motorcycle" and  "a lot for every taste."

Even a 1973 Mercedes and a John Deere 3-speed bike will be up for sale.

According to the sale bill (click here), there is still time to place an item on this auction.  

Consignments will be accepted through today, Sept. 10.  

An e-mail sent to the Times informs us that many more items will be added to the auction list, and that the lineup of offering will go far beyond "outdoor items," including antiques, electronics and even shop tools and equipment.  

Buyers are encourage to click here to keep an eye on items.

Because this is a fundraising event, the Dorchester Legion will keep 20% of the final sale price, we are told.  

Auction services are being donated by Novak Auction for the Legion free of charge.

If you have any item you'd like to sell on an auction, you're encouraged to call Tom Cerny (402.381.8049).  Sellers keep 80% of the profit.

As it did last year, this auction is intended to attract many sportsman items such as firearms, ammo, boats, fishing/hunting gear, camping gear, ATVs, motorcycles, etc. -- but other items will be sold.  


Sunday, September 4, 2016

Dorchester's Lewis Total Lawn Care Offering Free Estimates


Dorchester has a new business in town -- and it's called Lewis Total Lawn Care.  

The owners are Ricky and Kyleigh Lewis.  Kyleigh is an educator at Dorchester High School and heads DHS' Future Business Leaders of America chapter.

Ricky will be the operator of the business. He graduated from Northeast Community College with a degree in horticulture and golf course management.  Ricky has been a superintendent at Kelly's Country Club in Norfolk, Steepleview in Humphrey, and Friend Country Club. 

The Times has learned that Ricky recently purchased the lawn care business from R and R Lawn Care in Friend. The primary coverage area is Dorchester, Friend and Exeter. 

Lewis Total Lawn Care's services include mowing, fertilizing, spraying/chemicals, aerification and seeding. 

Free estimates are being offered for service this year and next. Here is the contact information:

Lewis Total Lawn Care
103 Whitmar Ave. 
E-mail: lewistotallawncare@gmail.com
Phone: 402-929-0378

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Saline County Feels Oklahoma's 5.6 Earthquake This Morning


An earthquake shook the Dorchester area around 7 a.m. Saturday.

Earlier this morning, the Dorchester Times' social media accounts were filled with comments like:

"That was either an earth quake or some EXTREME vertigo! The dog freaked out so, I'm thinking earth quake."

"Just sitting on my couch, and felt it moving -- my plant was shaking, too. Did anyone else feel it?"

"Omg...I thought I was losing my mind...sitting on the side of my bed and thought I was going to fall over."

According to the USGS, an earthquake with a 5.6 magnitude struck near Pawnee, Oklahoma.  Its effects obviously reverberated all the way to southern Nebraska. The earthquake’s epicenter was located eight miles northwest of Pawnee, Okla. -- 73 miles north, northeast of Oklahoma City. It was about four miles deep.

(UPDATE: The AP reports, "An earthquake has rattled a swath of the Great Plains from Nebraska to North Texas.  The United States Geological Survey said that a 5.6 magnitude earthquake happened at 7:02 a.m. Saturday in north-central Oklahoma. It also tweeted that aftershocks may occur. People in Kansas City, Missouri; Fayetteville, Arkansas; and Norman, Oklahoma, all reported feeling the earthquake.  Sean Weide in Omaha, Nebraska, said he'd never been in an earthquake before and thought he was getting dizzy.")

Click here to see the latest earthquake reports.

Earlier this year, the Dorchester Times wrote a lengthy story on southeast Nebraska's vulnerability to earthquakes.  See the story here.

We wrote: "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."

The bottom line is: It can happen here. And it just did, again.

DEVELOPING...

Thursday, September 1, 2016

OPEN FORUM: How Can Dorchester Fill Vacant Homes Or Encourage New Housing?


Facebook and other social media outlets make it easier to gather feedback from our readers.

One example came this past weekend, when we asked our Facebook followers how Dorchester should encourage the sale/redevelopment of currently vacant homes in our community -- or encourage new housing construction within the village.

Here are the responses we received:

* "Lure in a large corporate business. That would do the trick."

* "Ceaning up main street. Some of the vacant buildings need painting and fixing."

* "Fix main street and the rest will come."

* "Recruit a grocery store."

* "A quick shop or somewhere we can at least get a pop and a loaf of bread if we need it. Having once owned the grocery store, I am willing to say that may not be viable in Dorchester with Walmart so close, but I think a quick shop would do great! Someone should talk to Co-Op about doing that."

* "We need available housing before we lure more people into town. Otherwise it's just more people living in other towns, working in Dorchester, yet doing all of their business in the town where they live. I think the question is, "How do we get current property owners to sell or rent to the people who want to live here but can't find housing?"

* "I would think that the fact that our new superintendent had to buy a house in Friend (because none of the 25 empty houses are actually for sale) should be a big eye opener."

* "I lived in Dorchester for over 30 years and enjoyed all of the 30 years. I raised my kids in Dorchester and they did quite well. Education was good and there are some very good teachers there. we had a grocery store there in town which was nice. The library there was good and my husband enjoyed it very much. ... It is a nice quite place to live and raise a family. I moved just this year so could be closer to my family. I had a wonderful hair dresser there. You need to advertise the business more, fix up the downtown area more. I will miss living there because I met some great people there.  You need to show people this is a good town to live in with a family.  Penny is doing a good job with being an neighborhood inspector.  We need that to make Dorchester attractive and appealing to people and to let people know what kinds of business here in town and about the nice park, community building, Legion hall, places to eat, and gas station.  We also cannot forget about the volunteers on the fire department the time they put in.  Advertising is one best way to get people wanting to come there on web and in the newspaper."

* "I try really hard to keep my shop clean, free of weeds, ect. ... but the rest of Main Street does not look so good. That needs to improve and maybe supporting Dorchester a little bit by the people of Dorchester would help a lot."

* "What is the village going to do with the lot that is getting cleaned up south of the park behind the bank? That would be a great building spot for a grocery store."

We also heard from an older reader who does not have Internet, but e-mailed us through her son's account after he showed her our Facebook survey and responses.  She wrote:
* "Dorchester, like many small towns in America, needs to promote its high quality of life.  No magic fairy will come and make people or businesses appear. That will take the hard work of town leaders and the support of all the people.  I suggest that Dorchester needs to grow up around 1,000 residents to make up for all the lost farm families over the past several decades.  To do that someone should talk to a developer and locate a new subdivision outside town to prompt new housing for families and retirees.  That would increase population for both the school and businesses."

What are your ideas? We would love to have them in the "comments" section below.  Also, check out the full conversation -- with some encouraging and some rather frank comments -- by clicking here.