This was a year for capital improvements in Hillsboro

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN
Hillsboro saw numerous city-initiated capital-improvement projects begun and a few completed during 2005, a year which had its share of accomplishments and setbacks.

January

The New Year’s baby arrived at Hillsboro Community Medical Center at 3:43 p.m., New Year’s Day. Taydyn Quinn Lovelady was born to Joe and Karlene Lovelady of Marion.

The worst ice storm in years hit central Kansas on Tuesday, Jan. 4. In Hillsboro, electrical power was out for 12 hours and schools closed for 41/2 days. Around 90 people came on Tuesday to city hall, which was powered by a backup generator and became an emergency relief center. Power from Westar Energy was restored in Hillsboro about 1:10 p.m. that day. City crews were on the job 34 hours straight, restoring power to individual homes and removing dangerous branches.

Seven families from Hillsboro, calling themselves “Christmas Rebuilders,” returned from a nine-day mission trip to northern Mexico to help a depressed colony of people there.

Members of an ad hoc committee of Hillsboro Middle Schoolers, with the help of adult supervisors, began renovating a room at Main Street Ministries as a youth center. The committee hopes to open the center by the start of spring break March 21.

The Kansas Department of Commerce approved a grant application for $155,000 from Hillsboro to replace 3,700 feet of waterline along Lincoln Street.

Steve Schroeder began serving as pastor of the Parkview Mennonite Brethren Church Jan. 1. His great-grandfather was pastor of the congregation in the early 1900s.

February

The Hillsboro City Council approved a resolution that will enable the city to ask Hillsboro voters to increase the local sales tax by one-half cent in order to pay for the construction of a family aquatic center.

The city council accepted contracts to purchase land east of town to build a proposed wastewater lagoon system. A parcel of 80 acres was owned by Vic and Myrna Jost of Hillsboro and a parcel of about 62 acres was owned by Kim Koop of Hillsboro. The price for both parcels was $2,000 per acre.

City workers added a split-rail fence to mark the boundary between Memorial Park and the Hillsboro Municipal Golf Course.

Joel Garrett of Nickerson created a graft seedling of a 90-year-old pear tree on the William F. Schaeffler property in an effort to preserve remnants of the historic tree that had been cut down two weeks earlier. Stan Harder, director of museums in Hillsboro, initiated the project.

March

Hillsboro police officer Brad Richards presented the class president’s speech at his graduation ceremony from the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center in Hutchinson.

Hillsboro City Council approved a set of bylaws for the newly created Hillsboro Museums Advisory Board and confirmed six appointees as members: Aleen Ratzlaff, Jonah Kliewer, Willis Ensz, Evan Yoder, Dale Honeck and Anna Loewen Raymond. The new board essentially replaces the Hillsboro Historical Society.

Members of the Hillsboro Mennonite Brethren Church, who lost their meeting place to fire a year earlier, voted March 20 not to rebuild at its former location in the 100 block of South Washington. Instead the congregation will relocate within Prairie Pointe housing development.

Richard Wall, Tabor College professor and creator of the Friesen Mill replica, died March 25 following a long battle with a pre-leukemia illness.

April

In the April 5 election, Hillsboro voters approved the half-cent increase in the local sales tax to fund the aquatic center. More than 71 percent (648) said “yes” and 29 percent (263) said “no.”

Voters also followed the statewide trend and supported the so-called “Gay Marriage Amendment,” 85 percent to 15 percent. The amendment restricts marriage to “one man and one woman only.”

In the same election, voters reelected Delores Dalke as mayor, and council members Len Coryea and Matt Hiebert-all ran unopposed.

The city council approved the purchase of 80 acres of land that lies along U.S. 56 Highway and Industrial road for the purpose of economic development. The land, owned by Martha Melcher and located immediately west of the Hillsboro Industrial Park, was purchased for $3,000 an acre.

The Hillsboro City Council launched the design phase of the proposed aquatic center with Wisconsin-based Burbach Aquatics Inc. as the designer.

The Hillsboro Fire Department acquired two new pieces of equipment: a new tanker truck that cost $45,000 and was funded by four rural township boards, and a $10,500 thermal imager, which can detect the location of persons or hot spots in a fire emergency. Receipt of the thermal imager capped a three-year effort to raise funds for it.

The Hillsboro City Council approved the purchase of 142 acres of ground from Vic and Myrna Jost and Kim Koop after hearing the land is suitable for a wastewater lagoon system.

May

Jodi Stutzman, who will graduate from Tabor College at the end of the month, was hired as Hillsboro’s pool manager for this summer and as director of the aquatics center when it opens in 2006.

The annual Hillsboro Family Folk Festival drew appreciative crowds under ideal weather conditions. A downpour before the second annual demolition derby on Sunday was the notable weather exception. Brad Foth of Hillsboro won the event. About 220 people turned out for the third annual HHS All-School reunion.

June

Representatives of a family that lives near the proposed wastewater lagoon system raised concerns with the city council about the effect the project would have on their land value and living conditions. Steve Schale and mother Arlene Schale voiced objections.

The city council sent a letter to the Marion City Commission offering to supply Marion with water from Hillsboro’s water-treatment plant. Marion leaders chose to proceed with plans to upgrade their own water plant instead.

July

Brent Barkman, owner and chief executive officer of Golden Heritage Foods, expressed his concerns to the city council about the effect a wastewater lagoon system might have on his food business. The project engineer assured Barkman and residents living near the proposed site that a lagoon system does not emit smell unless something goes wrong.

The Hillsboro Arts & Crafts Association sponsored its first garden tour July 3. Stormy weather did not prevent people from visiting gardens at the homes of Ken and Jean Jost, Wayne and Linda Friesen, Eddie and Connie Weber, Ken and Ruby Schroeder and Richard and Joyce Barkman.

The third and final phase of Hillsboro’s Main Street renovation project began in earnest July 1. This phase, the least expensive of the three, included three blocks from A Street to D Street.

Work on the Lincoln Street waterline project began in mid-July. The project, estimated to cost around $300,000, is funded with a 50-50 split between the city and the state.

Councilor Len Coryea called for the reorganization of the Hillsboro Management Board in order to increase efficiency and productivity, particularly in the area of economic development.

August

The city council and the Hillsboro Management Board came to agreement about the function of the HMB office in a face-to-face meeting Aug. 2. City funding will be fully restored with the understanding that the office will make specified changes in its operation. HMB chairman Darrell Driggers had resigned his position prior to the meeting.

The city was invited to join the Kansas Power Pool, a new consortium of municipalities banding together to help control the cost of electricity once the current Westar Energy contracts expire. Seven cities have signed on so far and 17 more are interested.

September

Management and staff of Golden Heritage Foods launched an effort to transport relief supplies to victims of Hurricane Katrina. The effort started Sept. 1 with three semi-trucks carrying nearly 110,000 bottles of drinking water, and grew to several more truckloads of goods donated by residents of Hillsboro and surrounding communities.

The Chamber-sponsored signposts pointing direction to downtown businesses went up the first Saturday of September.

A major limb on the landmark cottonwood tree at the corner of Main and First streets crashed to the ground on Labor Day. Within a few weeks, the entire tree was removed because of significant deterioration within the trunk. Though the age of the tree was never determined, it was believed to be one of the oldest in town.

The city will apply for a state grant of $400,000 that could rehabilitate up to 16 homes in a designated area on the north side of town. The city will learn after the first of the year if its request has been accepted.

In order to offset weaker-than-projected sale-tax revenue so far this year, the city council decided to review plans for the aquatic center with the hope of reducing its cost, to lengthen the term of its bond from 15 to 20 years and to use city funds to subsidize the project if necessary. Expenses for the center were reduced by $50,619 in consultation with Burbach Aquatics and the project contractor, Carruthers Construction Co.

The crowd at this year’s Hillsboro Arts & Crafts Fair on Sept. 17 was estimated between 40,000 and 45,000-a healthy turnout considering a significant increase in gasoline prices.

Randy Smith was appointed pastor of First Mennonite Church in Hillsboro, effective Sept. 1.

October

Workers from Pittsburg Tank & Tower painted Hillsboro’s main water tower, which is situated on the Tabor College campus.

The city council hired the consulting firm EMG to advise about ways to reduce electrical consumption.

November

Construction began on aquatic center during the first week of the month. The $2.5 million facility is scheduled to be completed by Memorial Day weekend 2006.

Gayla Ratzlaff, director of social services at the long-term care unit of Hillsboro Community Medical Center, asked the city council funding assistance through the city’s Public Building Commission for facility improvements that will create a more home-like feeling at the facility.

The city council approved a request from the Hillsboro Mennonite Brethren Church to annex 16.6 acres of ground within the Prairie Pointe development for the location of a church building and an independent housing development.

Local remote-control vehicle hobbyist Jessey Hiebert and city recreation Matt Dalke received permission from the city council to develop a race track at Sports Complex. A group of hobbyists will raise the money to build it.

Jerry Troyer and Anna Loewen, both of Hillsboro, were selected as Snowflake King and Queen for the second annual Holly Days parade. The two were picked on the basis of nominating essays written by their grandchildren at Hillsboro Elementary School.

December

Below-zero temperatures and 3 to 4 inches of snow hit the area the first week of the month.

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