Highway Patrol may move district field office to Hillsboro

The presence of law enforcement will increase in Hillsboro if the Kansas High Patrol decides to move its district field office from Marion to the former AMPI property in Hillsboro.

The Hillsboro City Council approved a lease agreement at its Tuesday meeting that would rent about 700 square feet of space to the KHP for $100 a month.

The agreement also has to be approved by KHP officials before a move would take place.

The office would be located in the same building in which the Hillsboro Police Department recently moved its headquarters, but it would be physically separated from the HPD office and have its own outside entrance, according to City Administrator Steven Garrett.

He said KHP had approached Chief Dan Kinning about the possibility of renting space in Hillsboro because the space it currently shares with the Marion County Sheriff’s Department was growing increasingly crowded.

“There’s not going to be someone answering the phone 24/7,” Garrett said about the local office. “It will be a place for (KHP troopers) to office in and do their reports and keep their files.”

The significance of the move for Hillsboro would be, at the very least, an increased perception of safety for Hillsboro residents, Garrett said.

“We have the opportunity of having a few more police vehicles with lights on top of them traipsing in and out of our community,” Garrett said. “I think that’s a big plus for us.”

One of the council members suggested the presence of a KHP office might help regulate the speed of vehicles driving past Hillsboro on U.S. 56 Highway.

Garrett said that wasn’t a reason why the city entertained the notion of leasing space to KHP, but he added, “I think it’s fair to suppose it might have a little bit of effect on speeds out on the highway.”

The council took a step closer to closing a deal with Alltel Communications that would give the company the green light to erect a telecom tower on the AMPI property.

Bud Harlow, representing Alltel, attended Tuesday’s meeting to review the proposal and answer any questions the council might have.

Harlow said the tower will be a 150-foot-tall “monopole,” which means it will not require guide wires. The precise location of the tower is still to be finalized, but Alltel will lease a 40-feet-by-40-feet plot that will be fenced and landscaped by the company.

The council will likely vote on the lease at its April 15 meeting. If approved, the lease between the city and Alltel can be renewed in five-year increments for up to 25 years.

More than the conditions of the lease, questions from the council had to do with the possibility of improved cell-phone service for Hillsboro.

“It will definitely improved service in Hillsboro,” Harlow said.

The tower is not for exclusive use by Alltel customers. Harlow said the company has a cooperative agreement with other cell-phone service providers, although roaming fees may be charged.

Asked how far from Hillsboro the tower will improve service, Harlow said “in a perfect world” a tower on flat land can serve a radius of eight to 15 miles.

Jerry Rayl, the city’s financial consultant, was on hand to shepherd through an ordinance and a resolution that would enable the city to sell general obligation bonds to finance about half of the Main Street renovation project.

Both items were approved with a 4-0 vote from the council.

Ordinance No. 1066 designates Main Street as a “main traffic way,” thus giving the city formal authority to undertake the project, which includes replacing old water lines. It also set the total cost of the project, including engineering and inspection fees, at $818,000, and authorized the city to sell general obligation bonds for $400,000 of that amount.

Resolution No. 2003-03 set the public sale of those bonds for 4 p.m., Tuesday, May 6, at city hall.

Rayl said that given the low interest rate on bonds-currently around 3.5 percent over 10 years-he had suggested the city finance part of the project rather than pay the entire amount out of its capital improvement fund.

Doing so, he said, could free $400,000 cash for other projects, if the city council would so choose. He also said selling the bonds would obligate the city to pay around $50,000 in principal and interest for the 10-year period.

Councilor Len Coryea asked how the additional indebtedness would affect the city’s debt limit.

Rayl said the total indebtedness is “well within limitation and marketability.”

City Engineer Bob Previtera said a preconstruction meeting for the Main Street project is planned for April 15, and that construction could begin shortly after that.

After Previtera finished his report, the council authorized Mayor Delores Dalke to sign the contract with the project contractor, APAC-Kansas, pending a review of its language by City Attorney Dan Baldwin.

The council also approved a proposal from Previtera to buy and install a new beacon at the local airport as part of a lighting project currently under way. The funds for a new beacon light became available because of cost savings in other areas of the $70,000 project.

In other business, the council:

congratulated the winners of the annual Arbor Day poster contest conducted at Hillsboro Elementary School. The first-place winner was Neal Kaiser. Runners-up were Dakota Kaufman, Nicholas Klenda and Sarah Unruh.

As part of the presentation, Mayor Delores Dalke signed a proclamation designating April 25 as “Arbor Day” in Hillsboro.

approved Dalke’s recommendation that Karen Wiebe be appointed to the Hillsboro Historical Society Board.

approved paying invoices totaling $48,633 for work done on four houses in the state-funded rehabilitation project on the city’s north side. The properties were at 303 N. Lincoln, 303 N. Madison, 303 N. Washington and 301 N. Washington. The council also approved paying Tom Chavey $1,200 for final inspections done at those four addresses.

heard from Garrett that the dates for the city’s annual “Cleanup Week” will be April 28 through May 2.

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