City moves ahead with more airport improvements

The Hillsboro City Council agreed at its Jan. 3 meeting to hire one engineer to begin planning more improvements at the airport after expressing frustration with a different engineer about the decision-making process regarding improvements at the water-treatment plant.

After hearing from city engineer Bob Previtera that Hillsboro’s grant application was accepted for the airport, the council approved a contract with his company, Reiss & Goodness, to move ahead with the project.

The latest round of improvements will add a new taxi-way and heli-port at a projected cost of $221,950. The state grant will cover $199,755 of the expense with the city to pick up the rest of the construction bill plus some of the engineering fees.

Previtera estimated the city’s share of the project could be as much as $37,000, but was more likely to fall between $32,000 and $33,000.

Mayor Delores Dalke said she was pleased to see the heli-port portion of the project moving forward.

“I wasn’t sure we would ever get it,” she said.

Once the heli-port is completed, all medical-helicopter transfers from Hillsboro Community Medical Center will take place at the airport instead of the Parkview Mennonite Brethren Church parking lot.

The airport heli-port will be a much safer and convenient place for such transfers, she said.

The city’s portion of the funding will come from its airport and capital-improvements budget lines.

The state funds will be available for reimbursement in June or July, Previtera said, with construction to follow soon after.

Change-order procedure

Immediately before Previtera’s presentation, Don Heller, project engineer from EBH & Associates, took some heat from the mayor and council for moving ahead with some change-orders at the water-treatment plant before getting formal approval from the council.

“This is exactly what we told you we didn’t want to happen and now it is,” said Dalke, who added she was “irritated to no end” to learn of the action.

“We don’t want these surprises, but it looks to me like we have no choice,” she said.

At issue were four change orders that Hellar was recommending for council approval: painting a galvanized-steel clarifier to eliminate reflective glare at a cost of $2,875; adding two new valves at a cost of $6,817; replacing pavement at a doorway for $3,500; and moving a blower within the facility to improve floor-space efficiency at a cost of $3,200.

Hellar was recommending the changes because he was projecting the city should have around $70,000 in grant money left over for additional improvements that had not been included in the original plan for budgetary reasons.

Dalke and the council cautioned Hellar about moving ahead on change orders until it was absolutely certain the extra funds would be available.

During the course of the discussion, Hellar said he was confident the $70,000 would be available, but admitted that two of the projects had already been carried out.

“I hope you’re right (about the leftover funding being available) because it’s not going to pretty around here if it isn’t,” Dalke said.

Hellar said he heard and understood the council’s concern and would proceed accordingly.

Other business

On other matters, the council:

  • heard from City Administrator Steve Garrett that Hillsboro’s water-treatment plant is the only one of its size in the country that has been able to meet the Environmental Protection Agency’s latest requirements regarding total organic carbons.

    Garrett said plant superintendent Morgan Marler has been getting two to three calls a week from cities around the state and country asking how her team accomplished that feat.

    “Morgan and the boys are doing a good job,” Garrett said.

  • approved a pay estimate of $286,924 from Carruthers Construction and $13,824 from Burbach Aquatics for work completed on the city’s new water-recreation center.
  • approved a pay estimate for $127,105 from Utility Contractors and one for $13,871 from EBH for work completed at the water-treatment plant.
  • heard from Hellar that the switchover from old equipment to new equipment at the water plant will occur Jan. 17-18. Crews will be working two 10-hour shifts those days to complete the transition without needing to purchase rural water to tide the city over while the plant is down.
  • heard from Hellar that the Kansas Department of Health and Environment has given the city tentative approval to use peroxide at its water-intake pump at the reservoir. Switching to peroxide will clear the water line of residue buildup more effectively, safely and for less money than the chemical the city is now using, Hellar said.

    Adding the necessary equipment to inject the peroxide would cost around $5,000. Hellar said he would come back at a later date with a formal recommendation on the proposal.

  • approved wording changes in two of the city’s operating policies. The changes essentially update references in the policies from “city superintendent” to “city administrator.”
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