Thursday, March 30, 2017

Veteran Storm Chasers To Headline April 15 Severe Weather Workshop

Well-known storm chasers are coming to Saline County.

The Friend newspaper reports that "veteran storm chaser and severe weather expert Skip Talbot of Springfield, Illinois, and family safety educational activities and displays will highlight the 25th annual Severe Weather and Family Safety Workshop set for Saturday, April 15, at Wilber-Clatonia High School in Wilber."  

According to the details in the story, the event, which will go from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., will also feature a storm chasing vehicle display, including Steve Worthington’s Urban Tornado Assault Vehicle (UTAV) from Hutchinson, Kansas; children’s activities; and mini presentations on drones, social media’s role in severe weather reporting, regional storm chasing video adventures, amateur radio and SATERN (Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network).

The severe weather posters drawn by third graders and tornado machines built by area schools (including Crete, Dorchester, Friend, Exeter-Milligan, Meridian, Wilber-Clatonia and Tri County) will also be displayed and judged. A free lunch will be served by the Salvation Army canteen.

For more information, contact any of the planning committee members: Tom Longwell, (402) 826-9702,; Jake Colgrove, (402) 806-6518,; or BJ Fictum, (402) 821-2412 or 821-8080,

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Looking Back: Dorchester's Old Gym

Hard to believe, but it has been nearly nine years now.

Friday, April 18, 2008 marked the very last high school dance held in what was referred to as Dorchester School's "old gym" -- also known as the multi-purpose room, to younger generations. 

Despite the razing of the 1927 school building in May 2008, good memories of the old gym still linger in the hearts and minds of Dorchester alumni.

Looking back, the tiny arena was put into use immediately upon the building’s completion in December 1927, according to the Dorchester Centennial History Book. For the next 40 years, it showcased all the school's indoor sports, drama, music, speech, prom and homecoming activities.

Throughout the years, the gymnasium housed some tremendous talent, including the 1937-38 DHS boys basketball team, which made it to the Class B semi-finals of the Nebraska State Basketball Tournament.

With its tile floors and cramped corners, the old gym had a seating capacity of only 200 people. 

Basketball was no longer played in the old gym after the 1964 season, due to the completion of the school's new addition and current gymnasium -- both of which were approved by the district’s voters for a total of $296,000 in May 1963.

But for an additional 43 years, the old gym continued to serve as the venue for junior high and high school plays, as well as speech activities. 

The old gym was often the site of the DHS prom, and it housed the DHS homecoming dance for at least 70 consecutive years, going back to the mid-1930s.

When the 1927 school building was reduced to rubble in May 2008, many good memories were relived in the minds of former DPS students.

It is very likely that no other area of the building will ever be remembered quite as fondly as Dorchester's "old gym."

If you are old enough to remember it, share your favorite memories in the comments section below.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Notice: Severe Weather Testing On Wednesday Morning

This week is severe weather awareness week.  As a result, this Wednesday, March 29, at 10:30 a.m. (CT), the National Weather Service's (NWS) Storm Prediction Center will issue a test tornado watch for all counties in Nebraska.  

The watch will be valid for one hour.

Also, at 10:30 Wednesday morning, the NWS Weather Forecast Offices (WFO) that serve Nebraska will issue a test tornado warning for their Nebraska Counties valid for 20 minutes. This is the time you will be hearing sirens.   

At 11 a.m. the test tornado watch will expire for all of Nebraska.

This is a good time for businesses and families and individuals to test their emergency plans or create plans for the severe weather.

For more information, log on to

For more information on Severe Weather Awareness Week, visit:

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Havlat Memorial Gives Big Boost To Dorchester's Planned Water Park

The Dorchester Community Foundation Fund has targeted a small-scale water park as its next project.

And the effort has been given a big boost thanks to a large donation from the Robert Havlat family, according to information obtained by the Dorchester Times. 

The Robert Havlat family has given the community foundation $15,000, funding that will be used to construct the planned large splash pad, which will cost approximately $150,000.

A press release e-mailed to the Times quoted Wayne Havlat and Vera Havlat, both of whom said that directing the memorial funds towards the splash pad project would appropriately honor the memories of Robert Havlat, Sr. and Steve Havlat.  

Dale Hayek, president of the Dorchester Community Foundation Fund, said, "The splash pad will take much community support and participation, and the Havlats have shown that with this large, charitable gift."  Hayek also called the splash pad project the Foundation's "largest and most challenging project" yet.

In addition to the Havlat memorial donation, the Foundation held a major fundraiser March 18, hosting its annual steak and burger feed.  No word yet on how much the event raised, but we've heard reports that it broke attendance records.

A splash pad is a small water park without a pool. It includes several water fountain or spray type features to help cool anyone off on those hot summer days. There are no lifeguard expenses, and it shuts off automatically when there is no activity. Splash pads are a popular, less expensive way for adding summer fun.
According to several websites we've seen, splash pads can be elaborate with water features such as a rainbow (semicircular pipe shower) or a tree shower. 

Some splash pads feature movable nozzles similar to those found on fire trucks to allow users to spray others.  These splash pads are often surfaced in textured non-slip concrete or in crumb rubber.

Dorchester's splash pad would be a larger splash pad, we are told, with the ability to expand it even more in the future.  The project is expected to be located in the City Park and could begin construction as early as this summer if funding is adequate, our sources tell us.

If you would like to help speed the project along, donations are encouraged now, according to the e-mail we received.

Donations to the Dorchester Community Foundation Fund are accepted anytime, made payable to the Dorchester Foundation Community Fund and mailed to: 

Dorchester Community Foundation Fund
c/o Peg Bergmeyer
101 Washington Ave.
Dorchester, NE  68343.

The Foundation is a non-profit subsidiary of the Nebraska Community Foundation, so all donations are tax deductible.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

NEWS ROUNDUP: Alumni Tourney Successful, Museum Opens Next Sunday

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

DHS Alumni Tourney Deemed Successful: It appears the March 17-19 Dorchester Alumni Basketball Tourney was quite successful.  According to unofficial reports, DHS' athletics department raised around $2,000 from the event.  Nearly 60 alumni took part in the three days of basketball action.  According to Facebook feeds, the 1998-2005 team won the tourney, beating the 1989-2003 grads in the championship.  Sponsors of the event were: Runza (Crete), Heath's Sporting Goods (Crete), Holly Well Drilling, First State Bank Dorchester; Stutzman Digging; The Well; Novak Auction Service; Farmers Cooperative; City Slickers Bar and Grill; Spring Creek Repair and Farm Supply; Big T's BBQ Pit Stop; Barley's Specialties; BZ Construction; Papik Seeds; Rains Simmentals; JR's Stor-All; Complete Ag; Tyser Auto Sales; and 5s Zoubek Racing.

DHS' Bailey Velder Signs With Doane University For Track:  It appears Dorchester will soon have another college athlete in its ranks.  DHS senior Bailey Velder has committed to Doane University to join the school's track and field team next school year.  This marks the second standout DHS athlete to commit to a Nebraska institution.  Last fall, Longhorn senior Jacee Weber signed to play volleyball for the Wayne State Wildcats.  Good luck to both Bailey and Jacee as they continue to represent their community in collegiate athletics!

County Museum Opens For Season On Sunday, April 2: The Saline County Museum, located in south Dorchester just off Hwy. 33, will open Sunday, April 2, for the season. The museum will be open every Sunday from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. and will be open both Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday. Admission is free and donations are accepted.  A special event will be held Sunday, April 30, when the museum will host an Antique Appraisal Fair given by Tom Bassett of Lincoln. (It will be like Antiques Roadshow coming to Dorchester.)  The museum will open at 1 p.m. that Sunday, and the fair will start at 2 p.m. There will be no charge for the event and three items will be allowed per person for Tom to appraise. 

Red Cross Needs Blood:  The American Red Cross has issued a call for type O negative and AB donations after severe weather in some parts of the country forced the cancellation of thousands of donations this month. Eligible donors are encouraged to give to help meet the constant need of patients.  If you would like to help at this urgent time, contact Samantha Pollard with the American Red Cross Blood Services at (402) 321-3576 or

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Zoubek, Bird, Kotas Get State Honors For Yearbook Efforts

Dorchester continues to build on its reputation for being a powerhouse for journalism training, as DHS has just produced another three Journalism Education Association of Nebraska award winners. 

Twenty-five schools competed in the 2017 Winter High School Journalism Competition. 

Most of the schools were from Omaha. Class D Dorchester was the smallest school represented.

Brittney Zoubek received an honorable mention in the category of Yearbook Theme Copy. 

Makenna Bird received an honorable mention for Yearbook Sports Feature Writing. 

The team of Zoubek, Bird, and Michelle Kotas received honorable mention for Yearbook Theme Development. 

The yearbook team is advised by Mrs. Sandy Severance.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Dorchester FBLA Set To Compete Against Class A Schools

Can Dorchester High School compete with the likes of Lincoln East, Bellevue West, Bellevue East and Columbus?

When it comes to business marketing and sales, you bet.

The Times has learned that DHS students and FBLA members Tim Havlat, Brittney Zoubek and Jacee Weber have made the state FBLA finals in marketing. They will be presenting at the FBLA State Leadership Conference on April 7 in Omaha, with a guaranteed top eight finish.

Tim Havlat also made the finals in sales presentation at the April 7 conference. 

For those who are unfamiliar, the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) is a nationwide career and technical student organization.  FBLA is the largest student-run organization in the United States.  

DHS did not have an FBLA charter until the 1991-92 school year.  A quarter century later, while numbers in some other DHS activities have declined, DHS' FBLA membership remains strong -- impressive for a Class D school.  (DHS dropped from Class C to Class D in school year 1991-92, ironically.) 

Over the years, Dorchester has become a force to be reckoned within the FBLA universe and its statewide competitions.  In 2015, Dorchester took second place at the Nebraska FBLA competition for the Market Share Award, for example.

In the 2010-11 school year, Jessica Hansen, who received honorable mention top five percent in the areas of cyber security and sports management at the state FBLA competition, was elected as Nebraska's FBLA state secretary.

Other Dorchester students have served as state FBLA officers, as well, dating back to the 1990s.

The Dorchester Public School community should be proud of its FBLA chapter and the strong interest in business demonstrated by its many students.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Omaha Newspaper: Time To Tackle Nebraska's Rural Housing Shortage

Even the newspaper editors in Omaha understand how bad the rural housing situation is.

For some time, this blog has reported on the housing shortage negatively impacting small communities like Dorchester.  

We've also reported that between Dorchester's two major employers -- Farmers Co-op and Dorchester Public School -- fewer than 20 of approximately 100 employees live in Dorchester.

The problem is three-fold:
  • After the Great Recession, the only developers and home builders left standing are those focusing on high-income housing or huge apartments in large cities.  The average new home in America last year cost over $450,000.  In our area, the only homes going up in recent years have been those in the $350,000-and-over range. This is not middle-class housing for young families -- or at least shouldn't be.
  • Our property tax system, which levies taxes based on valuations, offer no incentive for property owners to sell or renovate abandoned and/or neglected properties.
  • Many rural communities -- like Dorchester -- have no housing plan.  How is a developer or home builder to know there's a demand for new homes or housing renovation if the community doesn't inform them? As a community banker in Lincoln wrote last year: "In many communities, a large portion of the housing stock is pre-1950. ... Proactive community leadership must become involved to solve this issue."
Anyway, here's an excerpt of what the Omaha World-Herald's March 21 editorial has to say about rural Nebraska's housing shortage:
It’s a lament found in rural communities across Nebraska: We’ve got the jobs to be filled — but not enough housing to meet workers’ needs. Courtney Dentlinger, director of the Nebraska Department of Economic Development, calls the housing shortage “a critical economic development issue in rural areas of our state.” A Nebraska Bankers Association task force lists various factors behind the shortage, including too few contractors and tradespeople; limited lot availability; escalating costs of new construction; and down payment shortfalls.
The editorial spotlights Legislative Bill 518 that could  help address rural Nebraska's housing shortage with a $10.3 million grant program.
LB 518 is intended to take a one-time withdrawal of unused funds to encourage housing for Nebraskans whose income is above the level considered for affordable housing assistance but who still run into roadblocks in trying to find housing.
The Dorchester Times staff is fully aware that an Omaha World-Herald editorial or $10 million grant program won't really do much for Dorchester's housing crunch.  But they do help us continue this conversation.

Ultimately, if anything is to happen on housing in our community, it will take serious effort on everyone's part, from elected leaders, school officials, investors, developers, builders, businesses and lenders.  Maybe a it will take a group of younger families and individuals who, together, just decide to build on spare lots or renovate dilapidated homes.

It will take hard work, some risk and dollars.  Wishing and hoping won't get the job done.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Dorchester's Leonard Stehlik Passes At Age 83

Dorchester's Leonard A Stehlik passed away March 17 after a serious illness. 

Born October 20, 1933 to Adolph and Emma (Kraus) Stehlik, he spent the majority of his life on the farm he loved. 

Leonard and wife “Jan” Jeanette (Selk) Stehlik were married August 22, 1954. 

Leonard is survived by wife Jan, sons Dan of Curtis, Brent (Jan) of Lincoln, Eric of Dorchester, daughter Bonnie (Mark) Wagner of Petersburg, sisters Velma (Wayne) Hansen and Rose Marie Heckman, and grandchildren Adam and Aaron (Bethany) Stehlik, Melissa Gash and Tyler Stehlik, and Eleanor and John Wagner. 

Preceded in death by his parents, son Linden, and sister Darlene (Gene) Easley. 

Services: Wednesday, 10:30 a.m., Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Crete. Visitation: Tuesday, 5 – 8 p.m., Kuncl Funeral Home, Crete. 

Family will greet friends from 6 – 8 p.m. Memorials can be given to the Lambs of Christ Preschool or LLS (for cancer research).

To send private condolences to the family, click here.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Currently 22 Registered Sex Offenders In Saline County

The well-being of our youth is a top priority of the Dorchester Times. 

That's why we are publishing today's post -- to help parents take appropriate steps to ensure the children's safety.

Nebraska law declares that sex offenders present a high risk as repeat offenders. For that reason, in Nebraska, sex offenders must register as provided by the Sex Offender Registration Act.

This information is used to provide public notices and information so that Nebraska communities can develop reasonable plans to safeguard children and teens.

There are currently 22 registered offenders in Saline County, according to the Nebraska government site. 

The Times spotted one residing in Dorchester, according to records.

Meanwhile, there are four in Wilber; one in Friend; one near Milligan; one near Pleasant Hill; two in DeWitt; one near Tobias; and 11 in Crete.

Be alert! Know your neighbors! Click here to see if there are any registered offenders in your area.

Under state law, there are three levels of registered sex offenders -- those who must register for 15 years, 25 years, and life. The duration is based on the seriousness of the crime. 

To see the list of registered sex offenders in Saline County, click here.

OUR OPINION: Time To Move On A Vacant Property Tax

The members of the Dorchester Village Board read this website, so we'll go ahead and ask the question: Is it time for the village to impose a land value tax on vacant properties in town?

Last week, we stumbled across a story that tells of several U.S. cities calling for a “land value tax” as a way to improve downtrodden areas.  

The tax -- which imposes higher levies on vacant property, thereby increasing the owner’s costs of holding on to unused, distressed property -- is being heralded as a way to eliminate blight and drive redevelopment.  

This would be the opposite of tax increment financing (TIF).  Instead of lowering property taxes for improvements, the "land value tax" would hike taxes on neglected vacant properties -- forcing owners to either pay up or do something with rundown properties.

Some of the obvious reasons behind the "land value tax" would be:
  • Lower property taxes for responsible home and business owners in town.
  • Force negligent owners to sell or renovate their properties.
  • Provide the town government more revenue for economic development.
  • Make more in-town property owners have some "skin in the game."
As the story points out, these "land value taxes" are controversial, especially in communities where values are stagnant. And they can be difficult to implement because a taxing entity must estimate the value of the land and the value of improvements separately. 

Still, we continue to think this tax or one like it to address vacant properties should be considered by Dorchester's five village representatives and perhaps put to the voters in the form of a ballot question.

Since Dorchester has no sales tax and no LB840 program, few other options exist.  We reported earlier the Legislature is kicking around a possible state solution.

Maybe the best idea comes from Vancouver, British Columbia, where a lack of available housing prompted the city to impose an “empty homes tax” that assesses a 1% surtax on any residence that is not considered the owner or a renter’s “primary residence.”   Oddly enough, Dochester, too, faces the problem of too little available house -- recently demonstrated in the 24-hour sales of two well-kept homes.

To make a difference in Dorchester, it might take a 5% surtax on properties vacant for more than 18 months -- and properties that aren't the owner's primary residence.  For example, the $30,000 vacant home and lot in town -- which currently costs an owner roughly $425 a year in property taxes -- would suddenly see $1,500 added to that yearly property tax bill.

We'd guess that extra taxation would get vacant property owners to either sell or rent their empty homes and buildings that currently only detract from Dorchester.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Dorchester's Hailey Schweitzer Wins Statewide Poster Contest

Dorchester has talent -- including lots of art talent.

Further proof of that came with the breaking news that Dorchester's Hailey Schweitzer has been named the winner of a statewide poster contest.

Hailey's artwork took first place in Nebraska's "Call 811 Before You Dig" poster contest.  As a result, Dorchester Public School will receive a bench and a tree, and Hailey's class will receive a cookie party.   

Even more importantly, Hailey's poster will be displayed on billboards around Nebraska. Also, Hailey's poster will be featured at the State Capitol and in publications. 

It appears Hailey and her poster are a big deal!

The Nebraska One-Call Board invited Nebraska elementary students to travel on a magical and educational journey while teaching them the importance of underground utility services and the dangers of unsafe digging practices.  The CGA Pirate Adventure video featured a friendly pirate who explains how to avoid the loss of important services like 911, electricity, and gas.  

The Nebraska One Call Notification Act was established in 1994 to protect underground facilities, the excavating public, and the general public.  

The Act creates one point of communication between the excavating public and the Nebraska member underground utilities regarding any upcoming excavation projects in the State of Nebraska.  It’s free, easy and it’s the law to dial 811 before you dig.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Thirty Years Ago: The Best DHS Basketball Team Ever

Thirty years ago today -- March 12 -- was the start of the Nebraska Boys High School State Basketball Tournament.  

To this day, many say the 1986-87 Longhorns should have been there; still others say DHS would have won the state title that season.

By a 5-1 vote of the Times' staff, that team is in our collective minds is the best boys basketball squad to play for DHS to date.

The Longhorns that season featured starters Bob Zoubek (Sr., 6'3), Steve Conner (Sr., 6'0), Cory Roth (So., 6'8), Matt Bolton (So., 6'5) and Doug Frahm (Jr., 6'3).  What's more, DHS had a deep bench, with able players such as John Weber, Lenny Gish, Greg Kotas and Ken Uher ready to step in as needed.  

Playing in Class C2 under Head Coach Scott Pohl, the Longhorns were ranked near the top of the state's standings by both major newspapers from the preseason to the sub-district finals.

DHS routinely crushed bigger schools most of the season, beating teams like Friend (88-53), Henderson (65-51), Milford (62-45), Wilber-Clatonia (70-46), McCool (86-53), and Wymore (85-53).  

The only team to trip up the Longhorns during the regular season was a mediocre Odell, which caught DHS on an off night and sent the 'Horns packing early from the MUDECAS tournament in Beatrice.  It was DHS' only stumble of the regular season.

During the mid- to late-1980s, no team was a bigger foe of the Longhorns than Lincoln Christian.  Known for their quickness, consistent talent and, frankly, dirty play, Christian was an emerging Class C power.  In the '86-'87 season, DHS faced Christian twice, beating them 79-65 early in the season and then again in the first round of subdistricts.

Heading into those subdistricts, DHS was 17-1 and ranked No. 4 in the state, but Lincoln Christian was peaking. 

We recently found an article by The Lincoln Star's Ryly Jane Hambleton who covered the March 5, 1987 DHS-Christian subdistrict contest.  She wrote: "Doug Frahm got the green light and you could almost hear the tires squeal. The 6-foot-3 junior was perfect from the field and the free throw line in the second half as Dorchester rallied to earn a 68-51 victory over Lincoln Christian at Southeast Community College in Milford." 

The story notes that the lead in that game changed hands eight times and the score was tied four times.  It also tells of a Lincoln Christian player who fouled out with a minute left -- with the score 59-55 -- and then proceeded to get two technical fouls. (There's a reason Lincoln Christian had the reputation it did in the 1980s.)  Frahm made four of four technical foul shots for DHS.

That big win sent DHS to face off against a much lesser Nemaha Valley team.  Longhorn fans we spoke with for this story recall looking ahead to the state tournament.  Many knew that DHS had good odds of reaching the Class C2 finals once they dusted up Nemaha Valley.

But that's where the story ends.  Nemaha Valley would use a half-court stall game -- now prohibited under the rules of the Nebraska School Activities Association -- to hold the Longhorns to only 41 points, or 25 points under DHS' season average.  The upset shocked DHS fans and everyone else following Class C2 basketball.

The loss stung and was controversial back in Dorchester.  So much so that the 1987 DHS yearbook doesn't even have a story recap of the season -- just the scores, some pictures and a quote from Coach Pohl.  

Some in the community blamed coaching, as is typical in high school sports of any class size.  Other blamed DHS' younger players.  Both are unfortunate because 30 years later, it's easy to see it really was just a game.  Moreover, Dorchester -- with caring coaches and involved parents -- was producing incredibly good talent and strong participation in that era, something for which the community could be proud.

Even the great ones occasionally fall.  That sums up the DHS boys basketball team of 1986-87.

No state tourney trophy to remember them by -- just really good memories for a tiny Nebraska village three decades later.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Another Dorchester Home Sells In Around 24 Hours

You've heard about the great home sellers' markets in Omaha and Lincoln.  

Those are nothing compared to the smoking hot real estate market in the small town of Dorchester. 

This village of around 600 cannot keep quality homes on the market for 24 hours.  

We received word this morning that the home at 808 Washington Ave. (Main Street) -- which was just listed for sale a couple of days ago -- had been sold by Friday.  Despite being a small home of just over 1,000 sq. ft., the 1971 one-story ranch was snapped up quickly.

Just a few weeks ago, the Times reported that a nice home located a half-block west of the school was sold in less than 24 hours after its listing.  That particular home had multiple families looking at it the day it went on the market, and the house was sold for a good amount over the actual asking price, we're told.  

A similar situation occurred last summer when a newer home went up for sale in south Dorchester. 

We don't know if its the threat of rising interest rates; the shortage of new housing; Dorchester's small-town appeal; the village's main street restaurants or cozy feel; the quality community and K-12 school; the attraction of a safe and clean town; or Dorchester school district's lower property taxes.  

"Looks like Dorchester is in serious need of housing," one of the home sellers said. "If you build it they will come!" 

One thing is for sure, good homes are moving very fast in Dorchester.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Dorchester Students Learn New Art Form

The Friend Sentinel has profiled Dorchester's art program and its recent focus on screen printing.

The paper reports that Shea-McCoy visited Dorchester as part of the Artist in Residence program that is funded in part by the Nebraska Arts Council.  

Dorchester students got to learn more about screen printing thanks to the Artist in Residence program.

According to the Sentinel, Shea-McCoy has a master’s degree in textile design. 

Bristol said she believes art education has declined in importance over the years, but she hopes the visit from the artist helps fuel a fire for the arts in students.

Shea-McCoy visited Dorchester for four days from Jan. 30 to Feb. 2. 

You can read the full story at the Sentinel's website by clicking here.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Leonard Lisec Passes At Age 82

Leonard R. Lisec of rural Dorchester passed away Monday, March 6, at the age of 82. 

Services will be 2:00 p.m. Saturday at Kuncl Funeral Home in Crete. 

Visitation will be Friday, 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the funeral home. 

Survived by wife Darlene, children and spouses: Darrell and Tammy Lisec, Debra and Dan Jurena, and four grandchildren: Dustin and Devon Jurena, Alec and Cole Lisec. 

Leonard was a veteran.

Memorials may be made in care of the family.

Send private condolences to the family by clicking here.

Superintendent: We Must Not Take Dorchester's School For Granted

Daryl Schrunk took over as superintendent of Dorchester's K-12 school at the start of the 2016-2017 school year.  Today, we feature a guest editorial from Mr. Schrunk as he gives our readers his thoughts on Dorchester and its school after several months on the job.


A couple of definitions of the word “community”...
  1.  A group of people, living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common; 
  2.  A feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.    
Wow -- does this describe the community of Dorchester.  

First of all, on behalf of the students and staff of Dorchester Public School, I would like to thank you for all your support.   Most recently, the support given to our student-athletes during the basketball season.  I was so impressed with the Dorchester crowd cheering on the teams, whether we won or lost.  

Dorchester Public School is a place where parents and patrons come together as a community to celebrate the successes of our students, both academically and in all the extra-curricular activities we are fortunate to offer.  I know our students appreciate their supportive community and the generations of Longhorn pride that exists throughout their school and town.

As the definition above indicates, a community has a feeling of fellowship with common attitudes, interests, and goals.  Having a school in Dorchester is something we must not take for granted.  We need to cherish our common beliefs that have maintained this school for many generations.  
The community has a vested interest in maintaining a quality education for our most precious natural resource -- our children.  We share the common goals of providing opportunities for all students to reach their greatest potentials.  

Our ultimate goal is to produce productive members in this ever-changing society.   We want to send into this world young men and women who have characteristics of pride, respect, integrity, decision-making -- all of which will lead to their success.  As mentioned in a recent newsletter, it is vital we work together to continue our commitment to a quality education.  

I like to say that Dorchester Public Schools are “the best kept secret.”  We have low student to teacher ratio, averaging 13 students per grade level.  My goal is to increase enrollment, yet keep the strength of low class sizes in our safe, caring community of life-long learners.  

I would be delighted to visit with you more about Dorchester Public School.

Daryl Schrunk

(402) 946-2781

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

DEVELOPING: DPS To Offer Its Own Pre-School

Big news for first-five education in the Dorchester area.

A Dorchester Public Schools-administered preschool is coming to town, the Times has learned.

According to Dorchester Public School information, at the February DPS board meeting, Mrs. Alison Nickel was hired as DPS' Preschool Teacher for the school year beginning August 2017.  

Nickel comes to DPS with over three years of preschool experience.  School officials say she believes in creating a "caring, warm environment, where the children are exposed to play, social skills, and academic learning."

Dorchester Public Schools will have an open house on Thursday, March 23, from 7:00 - 7:30 p.m. for potential preschoolers and their parents to meet Mrs. Nickel.
All the details have not yet been worked out for DPS' new preschool.  However, we are told the plan is to have 3-year-olds in the morning for at least 3 hours (probably 8:15 a.m. to 11:15 a.m.) and the 4-year olds in the afternoon for at least 3 hours (probably 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.).  Please note that the days of the week are not set in stone, according to school officials.

Questions should be directed to Daryl Schrunk, DPS Superintendent, at 402-946-2781 or

Monday, March 6, 2017

USDA seeks proposals for rural business grants

Some readers in the past have suggested that the Village of Dorchester (our local government) be more aggressive in seeking outside help for renovation of Dorchester's main street.  Here's one possibility.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced it is seeking project proposals for the Rural Business Development Grant Program in Nebraska.

RBDG funds are designed to support rural businesses and may be used for a number of purposes, including targeted technical assistance, training, economic development planning and for the establishment of revolving loan funds.

Eligible applicants include municipalities, state agencies, non-profit corporations, federally recognized tribes and colleges and universities.

Project proposals are due by 4:30 p.m.  April 7 and must be emailed to Brant Richardson at

For more information on the grant program, click here.

NEWS ROUNDUP: Blood Drive Today, Baseball/Softball Meeting Tuesday

Lots of things trending right now in our village...

Blood Drive Monday: According to officials from the Dorchester School, there will be a blood drive at the school from 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. today, Monday, March 6. Those interested in giving can call the school (946-2781) or they can simply walk in.  By the way, March is Red Cross Month -- the perfect time to support the American Red Cross and patients in need by donating blood.

Dorchester Baseball And Softball Organization Meeting Is March 7: Dorchester has begun to register kids interested in playing for the village's baseball and softball teams.  There will be a parent meeting for softball and baseball players on Tuesday, March 7, 6:30 p.m. at the Dorchester school. To download the registration form, click here.  Stephanni Olson-Renn reports that registrations, once completed, should be taken to the Dorchester School or the village office. She also reports, "We are still in need of coaches as well as someone to run the Sugar Shack."

Dorchester Junior High Play Set For March 14:  The Dorchester Junior High Thespians will be presenting the play, The Fairy Tale Network, written by John Woodard through special arrangements with Pioneer Drama Service on Tuesday, March 14, at 7 p.m. on the stage in the DPS Multipurpose Room (practice gym).  The public is invited to attend this show to see how three mice come up with story ideas for their new boss, the cat, by using the well-known stories of Little Red Riding Hood, The Three Pigs, and Goldilocks and the Three Bears.  

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Does Saline County Really Want To Become A Giant Wind Farm?

Does Saline County really want to become one big wind farm? Especially when little if any of the electricity generated from the turbines would be used by Nebraskans?

Those questions haven't been put before the people of the county, but it seems efforts to put up hundreds of turbines are moving ahead quickly before federal wind subsidies approved in the Obama years run dry.

The average citizen has been kept in the dark.  For now, the questions will be answered by the Saline County Commissioners and the county's planning and zoning board, which is administered by Dorchester's own Lyle Weber.

The Friend Sentinel reports that Apex Clean Energy out of Virginia is working on a wind farm split between Saline and Fillmore counties with an expected completion date in early 2019.

This news comes after last month's report that two Saline County wind farms were planned by a big company out of Texas.

Here is the Sentinel's March 1 report:

Dylan Ikkala, the project developer, said the Conhusker Harvest Wind project is still in the early stages of development.

“We are actively leasing land within the project boundary,” he said in an e-mail, “and are beginning to coordinate the necessary studies and permitting that will be needed before the project can be constructed.”

So far the company has installed two meteorological towers, one in each county, to gather information on the area’s wind resources.

Apex is currently still leasing the land it needs for the project. The project, Ikkala said, will require 25,000 to 30,000 acres of land. So far, the company has leased about a quarter of the land needed.

Despite the fact that each wind turbine takes up relatively little room, Ikkala said it’s important for the company to have plenty of room to place the turbines.

“The footprint of each turbine occupies less than half an acre,” he said, “but the large project area allows us to design a more productive turbine layout.”

The wind farm itself, Ikkala said, will have 130 turbines producing 300 megawatts, providing enough power for 110,000 homes. It’s also expected to create temporary construction jobs as the turbines go up and 10 permanent local jobs after construction is completed.

Ikkala said that, historically, wind farms have been mostly located on the coasts. In recent years, more companies have tried to tap the wind resources in the center of the country. Apex itself mostly operates in Texas and Oklahoma and is looking to expand into relatively undeveloped wind energy opportunities in the Midwest.

“Nebraska currently is ranked fourth in the nation for overall wind power potential,” he said, “but only 20th for installed wind capacity.”

Saline and Fillmore counties, he said, have unusually strong winds for eastern Nebraska.

“It’s not as strong as out west,” he said, “but for the southeast part of the state, it’s very strong. “This is the new frontier for wind development.”

Friday, March 3, 2017

UPDATE: Dorchester Native, York Policeman Cleared In Deadly December Incident

UPDATE: Friday afternoon, the news wires reported that a grand jury has cleared a Dorchester native and DHS graduate -- Roger Wolfe Jr., who now serves as a York police officer -- involved in the shooting death of a 53-year-old during a confrontation late last year. The grand jury found no criminal conduct in the Dec. 10 shooting death of Timothy Case at York General Hospital.

Officers were called to the hospital because Case was threatening staff and an emergency room doctor with a knife. When Officers Roger Wolfe Jr. and Christopher Jespen arrived, Case refused orders to drop his knife. Case was shot once as he advanced on Wolfe while holding the knife.  State law requires a grand jury investigation any time a person is killed in custody or while being arrested.

Another reminder the world is getting a little less safe, even in small-town Nebraska.

This past weekend, a Dorchester native and DHS graduate Roger Wolfe Jr., who now serves as a York police officer, was involved in a dangerous situation at York General Hospital in York, Neb.

According to the York News-Times, a 53-year-old York man was shot and killed at the York hospital when Wolfe and another York policeman were dispatched to the hospital "as a man was reportedly wielding a knife and threatening hospital staff."

According to the newspaper and the York police chief, "when they arrived, they issued the command for him to drop his knife, but he continued to threaten staff and was also threatening the police officers. They deployed a taser on the subject two times, both times to no avail. The subject continued to be threatening and was refusing to drop his weapon. At that point, they also attempted to deploy chemical means, using pepper spray, but again to no avail."

"Officers repeated commands for him to stop and drop his weapon, but he refused and the threatening behavior advanced toward officers.  At that point, the man was shot by one of the officers."

The man, identified as Timothy Case, was transported by helicopter to Bryan LGH in Lincoln, where he died.

Both officers have been placed on administrative leave, which is standard procedure. According to the York police chief, "the administrative leave is by no means a disciplinary action. The officers did all they could to diffuse the situation before having to take the action they did. They did all they could and this administrative leave is simply protocol."

This is just another reminder of the world we live in today and the dangers facing our police officers on a daily basis.

Dorchester Elementary Team Rocks County Reading Competition

Dorchester's third and fourth graders rocked this week's county reading competition as the Longhorns brought home the gold.

The Saline County Reading Classic featured Dorchester's Lauren Corning, Andrea Pavlish, Atley Zoubek, Lesli Kratochvil, and Baylor Behrens.

These outstanding students represented Dorchester in the Division I competition for the county's 3rd and 4th grades.

By working together and excelling, the Dorchester team finished in first place.

As a result of their first place finish, the Dorchester reading team will now compete in the Nebraska State Reading Classic Competition, set for Saturday, March 25, in Fairbury.

Nice work, Longhorns!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Deadline Nears For DHS Alumni Basketball Tourney

The arrival of spring and the annual Dorchester High School alumni basketball tournament are getting closer.  

Teams and individual players who want to play in the DHS alumni tourney should register soon, according to the Dorchester School newsletter.

Dates for this year’s tournament are March 17, 18 and 19.  

If you have any questions regarding the tournament, please contact DHS Activities Director Brent Zoubek 402-418-1019 or at  Or call the school at (402) 946-2781. 

Deadline to register is Friday, March 3.

There is a $30-per-player entry fee.  Teams may combine players in any manner that promotes fairness, equity and good-natured competition.  The tournament director reserves the right to make changes or adjustments as he sees fit to allow these rules to be followed.

Teams will need to provide the names of team members, year of graduation, the jersey numbers they wish to have, shirt size, and the registration fee to: Dorchester High School Alumni Tournament, c/o Brent Zoubek, Activities Director, P.O. Box 7, Dorchester, NE  68343.