Written by Hillsboro Free Press Monday, 31 December 2007 04:31
| Charlie Reece (left) of Ag Service Inc., and Hillsboro wheat producer Randy Eitzen examine a wheat plant for new tillers during a gathering of some 100 farmers with K-State crops specialist Gary Kilgore following the Easter weekend freeze.
If agriculture is still the lifeblood of the Marion County economy, then the late-spring freeze that damaged the wheat crop did more to raise the collective blood pressure of producers and those who make a livelihood off their success during 2007.
On the industrial side, Golden Heritage Foods LLC made a honey of deal with a Hollywood movie producer and Hillsboro Industries took several steps forward in its remarkable financial turnaround.
Meanwhile, economic leaders of Hillsboro and Marion took steps to strengthen their respective economic futures with the help of a new economic development director for the county.
Following are some of the highlights of the past 12 months.
Hillsboro residents started the new year with Big Mac withdrawal as the local McDonald’s closed its doors Dec. 27 after 121⁄2 years of fast-food service. Owner Dan D’Albini cited low customer volume and the expense of impending equipment upgrades as the reason.
Anna Woods began physical fitness classes for senior citizens through Parkside Homes Inc.
Work began on the new office being constructed at Washington and Grand streets for Hillsboro Dental Care, a satellite office of McPherson Dental Care.
Dana Daggett joined the Heritage Medical Associates clinic in Peabody as a nurse practitioner.
The monster truck “Bigfoot” proved to be a popular business promotion for Rod’s Tire & Service. Students from Hillsboro elementary and middle schools came out to watch a demonstration of the truck’s prowess.
Country Lakes Cafe operated as a delivery meal business for a few days after a 10-foot area of exterior bricks collapsed on the building, which was built in 1886. The cafe resumed full operation once the wall was secured.
Two floral stores opened in Marion in recent weeks. Plantations, owned and operated by Tamara Christiansen, opened at 420 E. Main, and Aunt Bee’s Floral, Garden Center & Gifts, owned and operated by Wendy Youk, opened at 1201 E. Main.
Linda L. Skiles, a board certified physician in family medicine, joined the staff at St. Luke Hospital and Living Center.
A late-season freeze near the Easter weekend may have damaged the area wheat crop, although local experts said it was too early to know how significant the damage might be.
After an absence of 21⁄2 years, Tom Kaufman was back with Hillsboro Industries as an engineering manager. He signed a contract in March that gives Hillsboro Industries exclusive licensing rights to a braking system he had developed and began manufacturing through the company he started, Kintec Inc.
A second storm socked the Marion County wheat crop April 15. This one left many wheat fields flattened by heavy snow.
Construction began on the first four-plex planned for a housing project at Washington and Grand streets, former site of the Hillsboro Mennonite Brethren Church. Solomon Langley, a businessman from the San Francisco area, is financing the project that calls for two four-plexes and a duplex at a cost of around $800,000.
Hillsboro Community Medical Center announced it would go tobacco-free beginning May 7. No tobacco use would be allowed on or in HCMC property, including no designated areas for smoking.
Randy Wiens marked 25 years of styling hair at his Silver Shears shop on Main Street.
The Hillsboro Farmers Market kicked off its second season, this time at a new location. The market moved from downtown to the grounds of the historic Schaeffler House because of better shade in the summer heat. Sheryl Lehr and Joni Calam are again co-directors of the market.
Prairie View, a long-time behavioral and mental health services provider based in Newton, announce it would be moving its community center site from Marion to Hillsboro. Located in Marion since 1967, the center will relocate in the Hillsboro Heights development to accommodate expansion at St. Luke Hospital in Marion.
Efforts by Teresa Huffman, Marion County economic development director, resulted in a $40,000 grant to accompany business loans through USDA Rural Development. Carlson’s Grocery will use the grant and loan for store improvements.
Six Marion County businesses received merit awards from the Kansas Department of Commerce. Receiving awards in the service category were: Ag Service Inc, Hillsboro; Kansas Publishing Ventures LLC (Hillsboro Free Press), Hillsboro; and Soda Pop Hairshop, Burns. Receiving retail awards were: Flinthills Junction, Burns; Peabody Market, Peabody; and Wilbur’s Market, Florence.
As if the late freeze wasn’t enough of a hardship for the 2007 wheat crop, the latest threat came from an army worm infestation, according to local observers. The worms also were hurting brome-grass fields.
Cooperative Grain & Supply, based in Hillsboro, announced it would be building a 300,000-bushel grain storage silo at its Marion facility.
Early reports from Marion County wheat producers indicated this year’s crop harvest would be significantly below average. Yields ranged from five bushels to 30 bushels per acre, but with the average around 15 to 20.
Clint Seibel was appointed the first director of business recruitment for the newly launched Hillsboro Ventures Inc. Seibel has been a fundraiser for Tabor College for the past 12 years. HVI is a business incubation and recruitment enterprise of the Hillsboro Development Corp. Seibel’s office will be located in city hall.
The Hillsboro Et Cetera shop celebrated its 30th year of operation, and is reportedly raising more money for Mennonite Central Committee than ever before. The thrift store has been managed by Carol Abrahams since August 2006.
By the end of July, area grain managers were calling the 2007 wheat harvest the poorest in memory. “The yields were bad, the quality was bad, the dockage was bad,” said Stan Utting, manager of Agri Producers Inc. in Tampa.
The Hillsboro City Council granted Hillsboro Industries tax abatement for a $1 million expansion project at the trailer-manufacturing plant. The project includes a 22,500-square-foot addition to its facility.
The Corner Shops opened for business Aug. 4 adjacent to the Quilts & QuiltRacks store in Hillsboro. Both businesses are owned by Diane Claassen. The Corner Shops consists of five small stores that flow together through doorways in the same building at 132 N. Main.
Bryce Wichert opened an accounting business called Accounting and Financial Initiative at 104 E. First, Suite C.
Cardie Oil Inc. of Tampa announced it will open a new tire and service center in Batt Industrial Park in Marion. The building will be built by the city of Marion for lease-purchase. Opening is projected for November.
Gib Suderman became the majority partner of Elcon Services in a transaction with previous owner Fred David. Joining Suderman as the minority partner is Jonah Gehring.
Hillsboro physician Randal Claassen generated discussion by proposing to the Marion County Board of Commissioners that it take charge of elections to create a single county hospital that would replace the existing institutions in Hillsboro and Marion. The commissioners showed initial interest, but backed off when the board of Hillsboro Community Medical Center said it would not support such a move.
The Hillsboro City Council approved some plat changes for the newly designated Hillsboro Business Park located east of North Ash Street and along U.S. HIghway 56. The changes would allow for a direct entrance off of the highway along the north end of the new park.
Curtis and Christie McBride of Wichita purchased and reopened the Peabody Lanes bowling alley. Their grand opening was Sept. 30.
Hillsboro Dental Care celebrated an open house Oct. 7 at its new Grand and Washington clinic.
Golden Heritage Foods LLC released details of the exclusive licensing agreement it struck with DreamWorks Animation to produce honey products that would promote the “Bee Movie.” A featured item is the distribution of a 2-ounce portable honey container in the image of the movie’s main character, Barry B. Benson.
Hillsboro Industries began its facility expansion. The 22,500-square-foot addition will enable the main plant to accommodate the company’s entire operation under one roof. Presently, the work is divided at two locations a quarter-mile apart.
The former McDonald’s building was sold at auction Nov. 15 for $69,000. The identity of the buyer was not made public, but the bidder was representing a fast-food restaurant chain, according to knowledgeable sources.
Don Suderman, rural Hillsboro, received the 2007 Appreciation Award from the K-State Extension department in Marion County for his willingness to allow wheat test plots on his land.
Hillsboro Community Medical Center is phasing in a new digital system that will enable doctors anywhere in the world to read patient scans within minutes of their completion at HCMC.