In general, 2004 a decent year for farmers and ranchers

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
The combination of a good wheat harvest and great fall harvest may make 2004 memorable for a lot of business persons in a rural area.

But the year was also eventful for gains and losses on a variety of business fronts.

Following is a month-by-month summary of some of the highlights.

January

A variety of issues prompted St. Luke’s Hospital in Marion to consider dropping its obstetric services.

Mid-America Marble Products in Marion celebrated its open house Jan. 24. Opening in December and owned by David Yates, the company manufactures products used in kitchens, baths and other parts of the home from cultured granite, marble and onyx.

County beef producers seem to be weathering the announcement of a case of mad-cow disease in Washington State in December. Prices took an immediate dip, but rebounded relatively quickly.

Thee Bookstore, owned by Brenda and Rod Hamm, announced it would move its location four doors north and double the space it was occupying on North Main in Hillsboro.

Lowell Peachey, who was operating a private consulting company in Hillsboro that markets leadership development and training, was named vice president of business affairs at Bethel College.

February

Tracy Williams opened a branch office of Rodgers & Associates Insurance Inc. at 105 N. Main, Hillsboro, the building previously occupied by Thee Bookstore.

Emprise Bank made its first payment on a five-year, $50,000 pledge to Tabor College for the school’s Continuing a Legacy of Distinction campaign.

Ty R. Zeiner, owner of Zeiner Funeral Home of Marion, purchased Olson’s Mortuary in Canton from Ingrid Olson Webster and Sonja Olson Griffith.

Olde Towne Restaurant & Bakery owners Linden and Dorie Thiessen announced plans to develop the basement of their historic building into a coffeehouse called “Olde Towne Underground.”

March

The dies need to create the special pan for baking Pizza Hut’s new “4-for-all” pizza was manufactured at Marion Die & Fixture. The company previously had developed the dies for Pizza Hut’s bread-sticks pan.

Good moisture, good prices and excellent-looking wheat fields are putting area farmers into a nearly enviable situation compared to expectations tempered by dry conditions elsewhere in the state.

April

Joel Klaassen and Don Ratzlaff, owners of the Hillsboro Free Press, purchased the Hesston Record April 8 from Bob and Loretta Latta, who had owned it since 1985. After publishing only on the Internet since January, the newspaper returned to print in May.

Hillsboro Community Medical Center Long Term Care Unit received its new, fully equipped 13-passenger van April 26. The new vehicle cost nearly $37,000-80 percent of the money came via a grant from the Kansas Department of Transportation and the other 20 percent from a benefit golf tournament organized in 2002 by HCMC

May

Quilts and QuiltRacks opened its doors for business May 1 on North Main Street. Diane and Dwayne Claassen are the owners and operators.

Peggy and Keith Watson are co-owners of a new antique store in Peabody called Cameo Rose antiques. The business opened May 22.

June

Becky Hanna of Hillsboro purchased the former Inspirations Hair Salon from owner Mecia Wares and renamed it The Spritz. The hair and tanning salon is located on East D Street.

Paul Epp, owner of Total Home Repair and Appliance, announced he would be closing his store at the corner of Main and Grand in Hillsboro at the end of the month. Epp accepted a maintenance position with Parkside Homes, Inc.

Citing a need for more space, Forget-Me-Not Flower Shop in Hillsboro moved from its opening location on the 100 block of East Grand to 503 S. Main.

Frequent rains delayed a promising wheat harvest during mid-June. Lyman Adams, general manager of Cooperative Grain & Supply in Hillsboro, estimated that 35 to 40 percent of the harvest was in before the rains came.

Cooperative Grain & Supply in Hillsboro sold its tire and service store to The Lumberyard, which used it to expand its tool-rental business. CG&S will downsize its tire and service enterprise and move it to its industrial park location.

Hillsboro Community Medical Center was awarded $250,000 in Community Service Tax Credits from the Kansas Department of Commerce and Housing. Funds contributed by businesses and individuals seeking those tax credits will be used to renovate the entrance to the hospital and make the building fully handicapped-accessible.

Plentiful moisture through mid-July was generating enthusiasm about a bountiful harvest of fall crops. Experts think the corn crop could be the best in at least 10 years.

With the return of hot and dry weather in late June, CG&S reported that the 2004 wheat harvest averaged 40 to 50 bushels for area farmers. Test weight suffered from the weight weather, falling from 60- to 62-pound range to about 58.5 pounds per bushel.

August

Brendan Kraus, a 1995 Marion High School graduate, opened the Spur Ridge Vet Hospital in Florence.

The Daily Grind opened its doors Aug. 13 as a non-profit coffee shop in Marion. It is managed by Kym Thompson.

September

Tom Kaufman opened a new industry in Hillsboro called Kintec Inc. It is a manufacturing operation wholesaling gooseneck and fifth-wheel hitch systems with electric trailer-brake controls. The company is operating out of the former B&B Handyman building at the corner of Ash and First streets.

October

County Sentiments, owned and operated by Nadine Iseli, became the newest antique store in Marion when it opened its doors on West Main Street.

Hillsboro Community Medical Center sponsored the first Marion County Memory Walk Oct. 16 to raise money to battle Alzheimer’s disease. The event drew 20 people and raised more than $1,200.

Owners Bob and Kathy Sprowls closed Kingfisher’s Inn, for years one of the more popular restaurants in the county with its picturesque location at the Marion County Lake. The Sprowls operated the restaurant for some 24 years.

Steve Walker of Hillsboro purchased the former Hillsboro Locker business on South Ash. He will operate the business under the name Walker’s Quality Meats & Processing.

November

Charlie and Lynn Unruh opened the NorthShore Guesthouse bed and breakfast near Marion Reservoir.

December

The Hillsboro Free Press released its second book since fall. “Trial by Fire: Images of Crisis, Courage and Commitment” chronicles the March 7 fire that destroyed the meetinghouse of the Hillsboro Mennonite Brethren Church, and its aftermath. Earlier, the Free Press released “Hillsboro’s Heritage,” a pictorial book of pre-1950 photos to celebrate the town’s 120th birthday.

Ratzlaff Draperies of Goessel will celebrate its 50th year in business during 2005. The present owners are James and Gayle Voth.

Owners Marvin and Maggie Meisinger closed Butch’s Diner in Tampa. Marvin accepted a job with Golden Heritage Foods in Hillsboro.

Randal A. Claassen observed the 20th anniversary of his medical practice as a physician in Hillsboro.

Will Carpenter outlined plans to upgrade the grocery store he acquired in Florence. He has changed the name of the business from Florence Market to Wilbur’s Market.

Tippin Dental Group announced its intention to phase out its office in Hillsboro and consolidate its operation in Newton by summer 2005. The rising cost of technology was cited as the primary reason. Founder R.J. Tippin first opened an independent office in Hillsboro in 1980.

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