City of Hillsboro receives early 125th birthday present

With its 125th anniversary approaching, the city of Hills?boro received one of its first birthday presents Tuesday, April 21, when the city council accepted a donation from the Route 56 Classic Cruisers for improvements at Memorial Park.

The check for $671.50 from the organization for classic-car enthusiasts is designated to repair and rejuvenate the shelter house on the west side of the park.

Among the repair issues are the wooden planks for seating that are no longer attached to the support base, creating a safety hazard. The group also will volunteer its time to fix or remove playground equipment that is in disrepair or unsafe.

Mayor Delores Dalke highlighted the significance of the gift and said it illustrated the hope planners have for the upcoming celebration.

?Usually we try to think of things to give people when they come to these kind of events,? Dalke said. ?For the 125th, we want to challenge people to give a birthday gift back to the city.?

She said such a gift may be a financial donation or an offer of volunteer labor for a project that would make Hillsboro a more inviting place to live.

Dalke said the city would welcome ideas for potential improvement projects. She also challenged council members to suggest ideas and said the council ultimately would be the group to determine project priorities for financial donations.

OTHER BUSINESS

In other business, the council decided to wait until its May 6 meeting to decide whether to acquire a used truck that would enable the city to clean and vacuate its own sewer lines rather than hiring it out.

Mark Johnson and Kirk Nelson from Sellers Equipment in Salina were on hand to present the truck and explain its features to the council during a brief recess of the meeting.

According to Mike Duerksen, who heads the city?s sewer and electrical departments, a new truck with the similar capabilities would cost between $225,000 and $250,000. Sellers Equipment is asking $30,000 for the 1992 Ford formerly owned by the city of Ottawa.

Currently, Duerksen said, Hillsboro spends about $14,000 to $15,000 each year with Mayer Speciality Services LLC to have one-third of its sewer lines cleaned.

Duerksen said the truck the city now owns, which it acquired in used condition some 15 years ago, has the capability to clean lines but not to vacuum-clean. He also said the truck was running ?on borrowed time.?

When Mayor Delores Dalke asked Duerksen if the city crew had enough time to take on cleaning sewer lines, he said he thought they would.

The mayor also asked City Administrator Larry Paine if the city knows how much grant and loan money will be left over from the sewer-lagoon project once it is entirely completed. Paine said he would have a better idea in two weeks.

Dalke cited the city?s experience with the water-treatment plant renovation project, where engineers assured the city it had extra money to add components to the project?only to find out later that funds came up short.

In the end, the council decided to delay making a decision to have more information on the amount of money available, and whether the city can terminate its contract with Mayer Speciality Services without incurring a significant financial penalty.

In other matters, the council:

— participated in the swearing in of newly elected member Kevin Suderman as well as re-elected member Bob Watson and Dalke as mayor.

— approved a zoning change recommended by the city?s Plan?ning Commission for the land where Hillsboro Community Hospital plans to build its new facility from ?heavy industrial? to ?highway commercial.?

— approved a transfer of title for the Countryside Feed facility from the city to the company. The title had been under the city?s name while the company paid off its industrial revenue bonds.

— authorized City Admini?strator Larry Paine to hire a collection agency to recover money owed to the city by delinquent utility customers. Paine estimated around $35,000 is unpaid, and in some cases is years overdue.

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