Drought hits farmers, but business activity still strong

Impacted by drought conditions for much of the year, Marion County businesses experienced ups and downs in 2011, with new businesses opening and some older businesses closing. But change was particularly noticeable among health-services providers in Hillsboro.


After more than 50 years of selling televisions behind his home on South Cedar Street in Marion, Gary Carlson, 74, moved his business, Carlson’s TV & Satellite, to Main Street.

Cynthia Fleming was welcomed as the new president of the Hillsboro Chamber of Commerce at its annual meeting.


This year’s Marion County Conservation District award winners were Ervin and Carrol Ediger of Hillsboro; Duane and Linda Kaiser of Durham; Tyler Diepenbrock of Durham; brothers Rick Grace and Jerry Grace, owners of Keystone Ranch near Burns; Dan and Pam Brede­meier of Marion; and LaVern and Joyce Funk of Hillsboro.

Shirley and David Krause, formerly of Durham, became the new owners of Red Barn Antiques a 207 N. Main in Hillsboro. The store had closed five years earlier.

Joe Brown of the Buxton Co. said Hillsboro retail businesses have free access to the wealth of information his company has compiled about their primary consumer market. But unless those businesses take advantage of the opportunity, the information is worthless. About 20 people attended the informational meeting in the Scout House.


Golden Heritage Foods in Hillsboro was recognized for the accurate and efficient way it processes shipment orders with one of its key distribution partners, Dot Foods.


A research project conducted by Tabor College students Josh Elliott and Rob Moore, under the guidance of Hillsboro economic development director Clint Seibel, produced mostly positive findings regarding the city’s economic health. The study covered capital investments, real-estate appraisals, sales-tax revenue and population.


An undisclosed number of debit cards issued by Hillsboro State Bank were compromised May 3, but steps were taken to fix the problem, according to bank officials. No accounts were actually hacked.

Cooperative Grain & Supply opened a new $300,000 seed and chemical mixing system for soybeans at its Hillsboro Industrial Park location.

Two of Hillsboro’s leading business organizations announced they would be bringing a “coach” to help local businesses develop a custo­mer-service mindset. Jan Janzen of Emporia, director of Rural Tourism Development, presented the first of three workshops May 7.

St. Luke Hospital in Marion opened the Phase 1 area of its $6.5 million expansion and renovation project for public use in late May.


Around 20 friends and neighbors of the late Bruce Otte joined forces June 17 to cut his wheat fields south of Canton. The effort involved around 20 combines. Otte was killed Jan. 7 in a farm accident.


An official with HMC/CAH Consolidated Inc., owners of Hillsboro Community Hospital, said negotiations are down to “the details” in securing the financing necessary to start construction of the new $10 million facility northeast of town.

Three Hillsboro businesses received merit awards from the Kansas Department of Com­merce: Jost Welding, Radiator and Machine, owned by Todd Jost; family-owned Midway Motors of Hillsboro; and Sonic Drive-In of Hillsboro, owned by Jason Sjorland.

Midway Motors of Hillsboro celebrated its grand opening in Hillsboro Business Park July 15-16.

About 55 people participating in a Kansas Farmers Union tour gathered July 19 at the farm of Herb and Pat Bartel northeast of Hillsboro to hear about how the couple is using solar and wind power to reduce their carbon footprint in the world.


Via Christi Medical Associ­ates announced it would end its ownership and management relationship Dec. 1 with the family practice clinic at 508 S. Ash. The decision was triggered by the resignation of the clinic’s only physician, Randal Claassen, effective Sept. 30.

Marion County may have dodged a crop failure bullet, thanks to timely periodic rains. But Rickey Roberts, county extension agent, said moisture may be too late for beans further along in the growth cycle.

Marie Kessler of Kessler Kreations and Jan Frantz of Jan’s Floral Design both opened for business at the former Hills­boro Furniture Store at 112 S. Main in Hillsboro.

The drought of 2011 was so bad that seed reps at this year’s Cooperative Grain & Supply “Field Day” didn’t even bother to put their company identification in front of the corn test plots, which had all but shriveled to nothing because of the unprecedented heat.

Hillsboro Community Hospital announced it would be opening a family practice clinic in the building previously used for its speciality clinic. The hospital was still recruiting medical professional to serve clinic patients.

MB Foundation, based in Hillsboro, received 100 percent of an estate valued at $4.6 million from a former physician and radiologist who lived in California. It is the largest estate ever assigned to the institution.


The board of directors of the Marion and Hillsboro Chambers of Commerce met twice during the summer to look at how they can work together to strengthen both cities.

With nurse practitioner Melissa Batterton resigning from the Via Christi Family Practice Clinic to begin work at St. Luke Physician Clinic in Marion, Via Christi Medical Associates announced in a letter to patients that it would close the clinic Oct. 13. Batterton had been the last medical provider on staff.

The countryside was dotted with giant marshmallow-looking bags as several area farmers sold failed soybean and milo crops to a Texas buyer for distribution in the Lone Star State. The fields were swathed by local operator Rollind Bartel. The feed was then filled into the white bags and loaded on semi trucks for shipment.

Hillsboro Ford and the Hillsboro High School Booster Club helped generate at least $5,000 for HHS causes though the fourth annual Drive One 4UR School event in downtown Hillsboro. Ford Motor Co. contributed $20 or $30 for every test drive of a new vehicle.

Mike Ryan was released by HMC/CAH Consolidated Inc. as chief executive officer of Hills­boro Community Hospital Sept. 22 after 11 years of service.


Veterinarian Amber Toews joined senior veterinarian Norman Galle at the Hillsboro Animal Clinic.

The Red Fox Cottage has opened at 626 E. Main in Marion as a resource for vintage home decor. Owner Nyla Sawyer moved to town from Oxford.

Cheri Barton began working as the new chief executive officer at Hillsboro Community Hospital, succeeding Mike Ryan. Barton held a similar position the past three years at Seiling (Okla.) Community Hospital.

Jost Fabrication played a key role in providing two new tool trailers for Mennonite Disaster Service. The trailers went to Missouri and Arkansas, where MDS has relief projects under way.

About 1,350 Marion County producers received more than $3.1 million in 2011 through the USDA’s Direct & Counter-cyclical Program and Average Crop Revenue contracts.

HMC/CAH Consolidated Inc., owners of Hillsboro Community Hospital and 11 other hospitals in five states, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Company representatives met with local officials Oct. 14 to explain the strategy for reorganizing its debt. “We plan to be a stronger, sounder company in nine to 15 months,” said Bill May, vice president.

Hannaford Abstract & Title Co. of Marion celebrated its 140th year in business with a reception Oct. 28.

Ramona rancher Mark Brunner participated in a trade trip to Russia and Kazakhstan led by Gov. Sam Brownback and Secretary of Agriculture Dale Rodman.


The first Alternate Gift Market in Marion raised more than $4,700 for charitable groups Nov. 12. In addition, $500 was raised for the Marion County Food Bank.

Container Services Inc. of Hillsboro, a producer of plastic containers, celebrated its 20th anniversary Nov. 10 by providing a noon meal for the employees of CSI as well as Hillsboro honey producer Golden Heritage Foods.

Classics @ Olde Towne opened its doors in the historic 1887 Building on North Main Street in Hillsboro under the ownership of Kelly and David Joch.

Panda Kitchen, featuring Asian cuisine, opened its doors at 107 W. Grand in Hillsboro Nov. 17 under the ownership of Fei “George” and Julie Yang.

Physician Shauna Kern signed an employment agreement with Hillsboro Community Hospital, effective Jan. 16. The Valley Center native, who specializes in internal medicine, will practice full time in the hospital as well as the Hillsboro Clinic.

Prairie View’s Marion County office announced it will relocate to the facility that housed the former family practice clinic at 508 S. Ash on Hillsboro, effective in mid-January. The office has been located in temporary modular units in the Hillsboro Heights development.

Laurie Methvin has settled in as nurse practitioner at the newly opened Hillsboro Clinic since signing on in September. The Lincolnville native lives near Peabody.


Lincolnville rancher Mark Harms was chosen president-elect of the Kansas Livestock Association Dec. 2. He will become president of the organization a year later.

After more than two decades without an auxiliary, Hillsboro Community Hospital recently started a new auxiliary with Velma Hadley as president.

Despite positive amounts of moisture in December, Marion County will finish 2011 with a deficit of 7 to 8 inches of precipitation. State climatologist Mary Knapp said it would take a year of average monthly moisture to end the current drought.

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