Written by Don Ratzlaff Thursday, 03 January 2008 05:09
With the passage of another year, we pause to reflect on the events and issues we lived through during the past 12 months. As has become our tradition, we offer our list of top 10 news stories for 2007 based on both their immediate and long-term impact.
1. School building projects. The projects in Marion are taking shape as 2008 begins while the projects in Hillsboro are about to start. At least most of them are. The saddest thing about the Brandt lawsuit is that USD 410 is forced to divert a truckload of taxpayer dollars that would have been used to enhance the educational experience of our kids, in order to defend a building project that would have been used to enhance the educational experience of our kids. Regardless of what a judge decides, it’s plain to see who the real losers are in this case.
2. Wheat harvest havoc. The late spring freeze created a financial and psychological hardship for our farmer friends. But this is reality: We may try to grow a brighter economic future by branching out in industry and commerce, but our financial well-being is still rooted in ag.
3. New economic initiatives. The launch of Hillsboro Ventures Inc., the creation of Hillsboro Business Park and the hiring late in the year of a recruiting firm to ignite growth in the retail sector—our city leaders deserve praise for trying to spur economic growth here. Truth be told, most of us will be satisfied if we witness the return of a fast-food franchise along East D.
4. Leadership transitions. Hillsboro experienced change in three of its most influential administrative positions: city administrator, school superintendent and college president. May the legacy of cooperation and collaboration created by the dearly departed be continued by the newly anointed.
5. County corrections center. It’s the issue we couldn’t escape. Even though the commissioners’ second vision for a new jail is projected at half the cost of their first one, you have to wonder whether the $7.5 million price tag will sentence Marion County to economic hard time with little hope for parole.
6. Campus construction. The successful completion of the largest capital campaign in Tabor College history, and the construction of those impressive new student townhouses on the campus, are victories everyone in this area can celebrate as the school marks its centennial in 2008. A bright future for our college means a brighter future for all of us.
7. AMPI building. The city council gave it a fancy new name that no one uses. But we’re beginning to wonder: Given the events of 2007, do we call this property acquisition an asset or an albatross for Hillsboro’s future?
8. Triumphant Trojans. Blazing a Sherman-like assault on a state basketball title in March, then capturing a second track-and-field championship in three years in May, created a once-in-a-lifetime memory for fans of girls’ athletics at Hillsboro High. Principal Dale Honeck’s rebirth as coach gave the hoops story a fairy-tale quality.
9. Division I deluge. Speaking of sports, when’s the last time Hillsboro High had four athletes sign to compete at the highest college level during the same year? Try never. Congratulations to JuliAnne Chisholm and Wade Weibert at Kansas State and Tina Frick and Hannah Marsh at Wichita State.
10. Industrious industries. Stories about significant achievements at Golden Heritage Foods and Hillsboro Industries were year-brighteners for most of us. The first story was rooted in one feel-good Hollywood movie while the second one could provide the plot for another.
We’re hoping for sequels in 2008. —DR