City of Hillsboro sees large number of large projects

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
Members of the Hillsboro Mennonite Brethren Church celebrate at the groundbreaking for the congregation’s new meetinghouse in April. When completed in late spring, it will replace the building that burned in 2004. This was one of several large-scale building projects that either began or were completed in Hillsboro during 2006.

A host of building and renovation projects highlighted a year of improvements-both desired and achieved-for the city of Hillsboro.

January

A small blaze that apparently started spontaneously in the basement at Hillsboro Community Medical Center on New Year’s Day prompted the evacuation of about 60 patients, long-term-care residents and staff just as they were gathering for their evening meal. No one was injured and the fire caused little damage. Patients and residents were returned to their rooms later that evening.

Representatives from Unified District 410 and Tabor College formed a task force to explore a partnership for upgrading the football field and track at the college’s Reimer Field.

The Hillsboro City Council decided Jan. 3 to hire an engineer to begin planning for more improvements at the airport. The latest round of improvements will add a new taxi-way and heli-pad at a projected cost of $221,950; a state grant will cover 90 percent of the expense.

Wayne Lowry, one of Hillsboro’s longtime public servants, was laid to rest following funeral services. Lowry was a volunteer with the Hillsboro Fire Department for 38 years and fire chief for 26 before retiring in 2001. He died Jan. 6.

The Hillsboro City Council met in special session to approve a contract with Terracon Consulting Engineers to conduct test borings on the property selected for the city’s new wastewater lagoon system.

February

The Hillsboro City Council took steps Feb. 7 to seek a state loan for major street improvements along the 300 and 400 blocks of South Adams. The project was estimated to cost $293,000.

Tabor College celebrated the largest gift in school history- $1,218,500 from Wyoming businessman Joel Wiens. About $218,000 will go toward the college’s capital campaign for new residence facilities. The remaining $1 million was tentatively designated for improvements to athletic facilities.

KC Wolf (a.k.a. Dan Mears), the mascot for the Kansas City Chiefs, paid a surprise visit to Hillsboro Elementary School because fourth-grader Erin Wiebe was one of 20 winners in a contest sponsored by the Midwest Dairy Association.

March

The Hillsboro City Council formally went on record in opposition to using a county-wide sales tax increase to fund a proposed corrections center. The resolution stated a proposed 1-cent increase would be “unadvisable and against the best interest of the citizens and patrons of the City of Hillsboro.”

April

The City of Hillsboro announced it would step up efforts to stop vandalism in Memorial Park. Problems have included graffiti and obscene words on park equipment. The last straw occurred when someone chopped down a healthy tree.

Connee Willis retired after more than 16 years as director of the Hillsboro Senior Center.

Members of the Hillsboro Mennonite Brethren Church gathered on the east side of town to break ground for a new building. The facility will replace the one that burned in March 2004.

May

Glen and Suzie Kliewer officially donated the stone house built by Glen’s great-grandfather, Heinrich F. Bartel, in 1879 to Hillsboro Museums. The structure, located on the Kliewer farmyard, will be dismantled and then rebuilt at the Mennonite Settlement Museum complex.

The Hillsboro Farmer’s Market kicked off the first Thursday of May under the direction of sisters Sheryl Lehr and Joni Calam. An estimated 200 people checked out the food and wares at the Washington and Grand location.

Greg Brown was announced as the new principal at Hillsboro Middle School, succeeding Corey Burton.

The new $2.5 million Hillsboro Family Aquatic Center opened for business on Memorial Day.

Phill Kline, Kansas attorney general, was the featured speaker at Tabor College commencement.

Hillsboro High School awarded diplomas to 52 seniors during its commencement. Robert Jost and Clinton Schneider were co-valedictorians. Meredith Kliewer was salutatorian.

A major renovation project began at the men’s “quad” dormitory complex on the Tabor College campus. The project is part of a larger capital campaign to develop additional student housing.

June

A lightning strike caused minor damage at the Hillsboro water-treatment, which was in the midst of a major makeover.

Winds estimated at between 80 mph and 100 mph tore down limbs and knocked out electrical power in parts of the city June 16. The storm hit shortly after 10 p.m.

July

The Hillsboro Arts & Crafts Association sponsored its second annual garden tour June 2. The tour included the homes of Jim and Nancy Cloutier, Kelly and Juli Linnens, Bob and Betty Seibel and Larry and Sherry Cole.

About 250 people attended the community Fourth of July Eve Celebration at the Schaeffler House. Sponsored by the Friends of the Hillsboro Museums, the event drew two notable figures from American history: Uncle Sam (Dale Honeck) and Abraham Lincoln (Don Dahl).

Sarah Penner, Hillsboro resident, asked the city council to reconsider its admissions policy at the Family Aquatic Center. She asked them to reinstate a season pass instead of charging per admission.

August

The Hillsboro school district was completing preparations for its first attempt at a pre-school program for 4-year-olds. Collaborating with the district are McPherson-Marion County Head Start, Marion County Special Education Cooperative and Prairie View Inc.

Tabor College was ranked for the third consecutive year among the top private institutions in the Midwest, according to U.S. News & World Report. Tabor ranked 51st among the “best comprehensive colleges-bachelor’s.”

The Hillsboro City Council decided not to contribute toward a funding commitment the county commission had already agreed to regarding a study planned for Marion Reservoir.

The City of Hillsboro cut the ribbon on its newly renovated water-treatment plant Aug. 31. The project cost $3.5 million and placed the community on the cutting edge in Kansas, according to officials. About 75 people attended the opening ceremony.

September

Middlecreek Corp. of Peabody demolished and removed the former Hillsboro Municipal Swimming Pool facility in Memorial Park. The area was seeded with grass.

Hillsboro High School senior Jon Crouse was inducted as an Eagle Scout, the highest rank in the Boy Scouts organization.

Traditionally large crowds returned for this year’s Hillsboro Arts & Crafts Fair, thanks in part to sunny skies and warm temperatures.

Tabor College broke ground Sept. 17 for new townhouses that will serve as student residences. President Larry Nikkel announced before the ceremony that the college had achieved its goal of raising $1.2 million within one year’s time, qualifying for a $750,000 challenge grant from the Mabee Foundation of Tulsa, Okla.

Doug Sisk was hired as the new recreation director for Hillsboro. Sisk had been program director for the recreation department in Alva, Okla.

Jenny Whisenhunt was elected queen and Adam Dirks king during homecoming activities at HHS.

October

The Hillsboro Kiwanis Club designated a contribution of $17,523 toward a new food-service area at the Family Aquatic Center. It will be called “Kiwanis Court.”

A Wichita television crew was in Hillsboro because of a complaint by a patron about the inclusion of a racial slur in the HHS fall production of “Shenandoah.” School officials had previously decided the word was necessary in order to convey history accurately.

The Hillsboro Planning Commission by a 4-2 vote recommended the city council approve a proposal by Emprise Bank to build a drive-through lane along the north side of its building.

November

Larry Hatteberg, well-known photojournalist and anchor at KAKE-TV Channel 10, was the featured speaker at a banquet launching the Hillsboro Community Foundation’s new “Impact Fund.” The goal of the initial fund drive is $250,000.

The Hillsboro City Council went against the recommendation of the city’s Planning Commission and voted not to accept a proposal by Emprise Bank to build a new drive-through lane exiting onto Main Street. The council said the loss of parking spaces in front of a neighboring business was not acceptable.

December

Raymond F. Wiebe, author of the centennial history book “Hillsboro: The City on the Prairie,” was named historian laureate for the City of Hillsboro by a resolution passed by the city council.

Rachel Pederson was approved as a member of the volunteer Hillsboro Fire Department. She is believed to be the first woman firefighter to serve with the department.

At year’s end, the USD 410 Board of Education was contemplating preliminary building plans for four major projects at a projected cost of $8 million. The projects included improvements at the elementary school for $2.7 million, improvements at the high school for $2.5 million, a transportation facility for $800,000, and a partnership with Tabor College to build athletic facilities at a cost of $2 million to the district.

A physical altercation between two Tabor College students resulted in law enforcement officers evacuating the men’s “quad” dormitories Dec. 4. No one was seriously injured in the incident. Three students faced the prospect of police charges and five students in all were subject to disciplinary action by the college.

Hillsboran Don Dahl was elected speaker pro tem of the Kansas House by his Republican colleagues. Dahl is preparing for his 11th legislative session as the representative from the 70th district.

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