Keeping on – Year in Review: City

Hillsboro residents, like everyone else, likely will remember 2001 for the national events that literally exploded into the consciousness of every American citizen.

But the year didn’t begin or end on Sept. 11, and the hometown experiences of area residents may not have been as dramatic, but the impact in many ways did strike closer to home.

Following is a chronological review of 2001 for Hillsboro.


— The first Leo Club in Hillsboro and in Lions District K-6 was officially chartered Jan. 7. Leo Clubs are a branch of Lions International intended for youth from seventh to 11th grade.

— The USD 410 Board of Education approved the acquisition of a therapy dog for Hillsboro Middle School. The new Hillsboro Leo Club agreed to provide the initial fee of $100 for the dog.

— The name Seibel Real Estate was changed to Leppke Realty and Auction, Inc., by owner Lyle Leppke, who had purchased the business nearly 15 years earlier.

— A public reception marked the official transition of ownership of the Bartel Insurance Agency from R.J. Bartel to Jonathan Maxfield. The event also marked the 40th anniversary of the business.


— The new 620 area code went into effect Feb. 3 for Hillsboro and all of Marion County, replacing 316. To help ease the transition, callers could place calls using 316 through Nov. 3, but would hear a recorded message saying the area code had changed. Calls will not be completed with 316 after Jan. 5.

— Hillsboro’s new $382,360 electrical substation was energized into operation Feb. 6.

— Blizzard conditions resulted in canceling school and the postponing high school basketball games Feb. 9.


n Local leaders acknowledged that preliminary contacts have been made with MBA Poultry, LLC, producers of Smart Chicken, about establishing a processing plant in the empty buildings owned by Dairy Partners of America. All parties agreed it was too early to know if the deal would happen.

— The school board approved the purchase of a $293,762 computerized temperature control system for Hillsboro High School and Middle School. Savings in utility expenses should recover the cost of the purchase in four years, the board was told.

— Molly’s on Main Street, offering antiques and collectibles, opened March 16 at 119 S. Main. The store is owned by Sharon Mueller and managed by Judy Helmer. Boucher’s Red Barn, an antiques and collectibles store owned and operated by George and Carol Boucher, opened at 207 N. Main.

— The city council authorized its engineer to get firm figures on the cost of resurfacing Main Street. Preliminary figures indicated the project would cost in the ballpark of $275,000.

— Patrick McCreary, mayor of Hutchinson and theater director there, was the guest speaker at the annual Hillsboro Historical Society Fundraiser.

— Jay L. and Cathy McClure told the city council they were prepared to go to court if a satisfactory price could not be reached regarding the old Dari-Ette Drive-In building they had been leasing from the city. The McClures originally asked for slightly more than $20,000 when the lease was not renewed, and the city countered with an offer of $10,000. The two sides later settled on $12,500.

— Kevin and Dooz Pankratz announced they would be consolidating their Sunflower Office Products and Kitchen Korner businesses in Newton by late June or early July. The Pankratzes cited as reasons the changing demographics, buying habits and communication tools in the market they serve.

— The city announced it would appeal the results of Census 2000, which placed Hillsboro’s population at 2,854, an increase of only 150 people from the 1990 census. Several months earlier, city leaders had informally pegged the population perhaps as high as 3,400. The Census Bureau had issued a revised count of 3,136 people in 1998.

— The city council accepted a bid from APAC-Kansas of $413,931 to replace the city’s sanitary sewer outfall line.


— Enrollment for 2002-03 at USD 410 was projected to drop by 10 students and could cause a budget problem if the state legislature did not approve an increase in the per-student base budget of $3,820.

— Scott and Janell Braden opened Braden’s Computers on East D Street.

— Mayor Delores Dalke easily won reelection April 7, and Matt Hiebert defeated two other write-in candidates for a seat on the city council. Dalke defeated challenger Sonny Collins, 371-89. Hiebert received 77 votes for the East Ward council seat, while write-ins Vincent Driver had 70 and Byron McCarty 60. Debra Geis, Brent Barkman, Doug Weinbrenner and Eddie Webber were elected to the school board.

— The city council authorized $2,500 toward the purchase of a new patient transport cot for the local ambulance crew.

— Tim Sullivan, pastor of the Parkview Mennonite Brethren Church,m was elected chairman of the Main Street Ministries board, succeeding Keith Harder, who had served in that role since the board’s inception in 1994.

The Trojan Booster Cub raised around $1,000 by sponsoring the KU Barnstormers exhibition game between the Jayhawk seniors and a county all-star team. Jerod Haase, a 1997 grad, also played for KU.


— The city council appointed the Hillsboro Free Press Digest as its official newspaper May 2. The Digest had only 15 subscribers, but legals would also be printed at no charge in the Free Press, which saturates Marion County. In late June, the council reinstated the Hillsboro Star-Journal as its official paper when Hoch Publishing threatened a legal challenge.

— Otto, the Hillsboro K9 officer, died May 3 of natural causes. About two dozen law-enforcement personnel and 35 civilians attended a farewell service for the dog in Memorial Park, May 11.

— Judy Harder, associate professor of communications and drama director at Tabor College, was named the 2000-01 recipient of the Clarence Hiebert Excellence in Teaching Award. The honor included a $2,500 cash award.

— The 125th birthday of the Adobe House was the focus of this year’s Hillsboro Folk Festival.


— Fisher, the 8-year-old golden retriever that worked as the social dog at Hillsboro Community Medical Center Long-term Care Unit for six years, was euthanized because of declining health.

— About 116 teams converged on Hillsboro to participate in a Mid America Youth Basketball Tournament that drew some 750 teams to 18 communities in central Kansas.

— The China Buffet restaurant opened at 117 S. Main.

— The city was informed it would receive $269,075 through the Kansas Small Cities Community Development Grant Program. The funds, administered by the Kansas Department of Commerce and Housing, would be used for home improvements in a four-block target area on the city’s north side.

— Early in the month, the school board considered budget cuts, higher user fees and a mill-levy increase to compensate for an anticipated deficit of nearly $170,000 for the upcoming school year. By month’s end, Superintendent Gordon Mohn said the actions would not be necessary due to adjustments to the local option budget because of an increase in state aid.


— Prairie iNet, an Iowa-based company, announced it wold be providing high-speed broadband Internet service to the city. The company specializes in providing rural communities with the service by using grain elevators to transmit radio-wave frequencies to customers.

— Ebenfeld Mennonite Brethren Church celebrated its 125 anniversary July 27-29. Ebenfeld is the oldest Mennonite Brethren congregation in North America.

— A Kansas thunderstorm that brought a welcomed “million-dollar rain” to parched fields July 26 also did an estimated $1 million in fire damage when a lightning struck a city maintenance shed. Lost in the the fire were three service trucks and considerable supplies.


— Feedback from the business community prompted the city council to back off notions of a makeover for Main Street. In addition to a projected cost of $1.107 million, council members were concerned about the impact closing the street would have on Main Street businesses.

— Ben Steketee, a four-year volunteer with the Hillsboro Fire Department, was named to succeed Wayne Lowry as fire chief, effective Aug. 17. Lowry retired after 38 years with the department, 26 years as chief.

— The city council approved a 2002 budget of just under $5.481 million. The portion of the budget raised through property taxes was $480,889 and will require a property-tax levy of 40.483 mills. That compared to $466,625 in 2001 and a mill levy of 39.680.


— A Sept. 5 service marked the formal transition of the Hillsboro Christian Fellowship, a nondenominational congregation for the past several years, to an Orthodox Church congregation which has taken the name Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Christian Church.

— About 100 people turned out Sept. 8 for the dedication ceremony of Hillsboro’s long-awaited new post office. The new building, located at North Main and Grand, more than quadrupled the floor space available for post office business.

— Hillsboroans responded to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C., as many across the nation did: initially by forming long lines at gas stations as talk of rationing spread, then through various expressions of patriotism, a city-wide prayer service, and several fund-raisers for victims.

— The terrorist attacks may have contributed to a slightly smaller crowd at the Arts & Crafts Fair, Sept. 15. Planners estimated the crowd at 35,000, down from the record 50,000 a year ago. Despite the smaller crowd, sales were reported to be brisk.

— The city council authorized the resurfacing of the runway at the local airport. APAC-Kansas was awarded the bid for $149,113-75 percent of which was covered by grant funds from the Kansas Department of Transportation, the rest by the city.

— The council approved an ordinance granting Container Services. Inc., of Hillsboro a 10-year abatement retroactive to the year the properties in question were acquired.


— Nimda, the fast-spreading, file-destroying computer worm that first surfaced Sept. 18, created some extra work at the Hillsboro city offices. USD 410 was able to protect itself from the virus, though.

— At least one law-enforcement officer was treated for minor injuries and two patrol cars received significant damage while pursuing a fleeing suspect driving a pickup through the streets of Hillsboro Oct. 8. The suspect, Thane Bolstad, 22, was eventually stopped and taken into custody.

— The city council purchased a used 1993 GMC Suburban for use by Fire Chief Ben Steketee and a used Hi Ranger electrical truck to replace the one lost in the July 26 fire.

— USD 410 hosted its state accreditation visit Oct. 18-19. The results were affirming.

— An Oct. 24 Hillsboro Star-Journal editorial by Rick Hattersley, intended to stoke a stronger rivalry between Hillsboro and Marion football teams, backfired into controversy. Several leaders from the Hillsboro schools and community publicly refuted the editorial. Hattersley resigned within the week.

— Andy Friesen, owner of Friesen’s Furniture Center, Inc., for the past 26 years, announced his intention to retire and sell the business. He hired an out-of-state company to help him reduce inventory through a four-month sale that will end sometime in February.

— Barkman Honey Co., Inc., was included among 30 companies nationwide to receive the “Silver Award” from SYSCO Corp., North America’s largest food-service marketer and distributor.


— The City of Hillsboro adopted a new official logo. It pictures a sunflower in the image of a rising sun and includes the words: “City of Hillsboro: Respect for the past, strength for the future.”

— Parkside Homes, Inc., announced it had linked with Genesis Health Care, Inc., to provide nursing assistants to Parkside Nursing Home. Genesis is a regional provider of supplemental staff.

— City Administrator Steven Garrett announced that Johnnie Liles, city superintendent since 1995, had been suspended with pay from his job through the remainder of his appointment.

— The school board heard from Superintendent Gordon Mohn that updating the kitchen and adding a cafeteria to the Hillsboro Elementary School would cost the district up to $445,000. The board took no action.

— A record crowd of more than 300 turned out for the annual Schaeffler House Open House Nov. 25.


— Another record crowd turned out for the Arts & Crafts Fair Holiday Homes Tour Dec. 1. Ticket sales indicated about 580 people participated, but private counts in two of the homes indicated the number may have exceeded 700.

— Three juveniles were apprehended in connection with a rash of car break-ins in November and December. Charges in as many as 17 separate cases were expected, said Police Chief Dan Kinning.

— Income generated from the sale of water to Peabody enabled the city council to cut residents’ monthly water surcharge fee by half, from $2.50 to $1.25.

— The school board was heard that Hillsboro High School students earned the Standard of Excellence in three of four areas tested last spring. Out of 388 high schools in Kansas, HHS was one of eight to reach that standard, achieving recognition in reading, math and social studies.

— About 35 people gathered at city hall Dec. 11 to hear about the Main Street program as a way for revitalizing the community’s downtown business district. The Main Street program is based in the Community Development Division of the Kansas Department of Commerce & Housing.

— Kory Baker, 22, a 1998 HHS graduate, was killed in a multi-vehicle traffic accident just outside Marion County Dec. 18.

— The Kansas Department of Transportation approved Hillsboro’s application for a grant that will add new lighting at the local airport. The grant will cover 90 percent of the $70,000 project and the city will pay for the rest. The project will not start until sometime after July 1, 2002, the beginning of the next grant year.

— The city council was informed by its engineer that an operating error sometime in the undetermined past will cost the city an unplanned $85,000 to $100,000 in 2002 to repair the under-drain filtering system at the water-treatment plant.

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