City projects far exceed Wal-Mart stay

A worker with Hett Construction of Marion prepares for pouring concrete for the turn-lane project at U.S. Highway 56 and Adams Street
A worker with Hett Construction of Marion prepares for pouring concrete for the turn-lane project at U.S. Highway 56 and Adams Street
Mayor Delores Dalke realizes most residents likely will remember 2015 for the arrival and departure of a Wal-Mart grocery store?all in the span of nine months.

?I think what we have to do is to look at what happens when we rely on outside people to come in, and we are totally dependent upon them to make sure we have businesses in town,? Dalke said.

?Where are our local entrepreneurs? We need to have local people reinvesting in our community rather then waiting for somebody else to come in. We?re going to have to look at that.?

But Dalke said she hopes people remember some of the major improvements the city experienced this past year.

?The city did so many things last year that we put our money into, but there are so many projects that are going to be done in 2016 that we?re really are on a roll, no matter what anybody is saying,? she said.

Top projects

Among the projects on her mayor?s list:

A worker with Vogts-Parga Construction tamps sand in preparation for pouring sidewalks as part of the Safe Routes to School project.
A worker with Vogts-Parga Construction tamps sand in preparation for pouring sidewalks as part of the Safe Routes to School project.

? Safe Routes to School. Initiated and funded by the Kansas Department of Transportation, this project provided 6-foot-wide sidewalks along a designated route from the west side of town to the elementary school on the east side.

The project, a partnership between USD 410 and the city, received a $250,000 KDOT grant in 2013. Con?struc?tion began in summer and was completed by the start of school.

With the growth of the elementary school?s Walking School Bus program, the sidewalk project was all the more important, according to the mayor

?I think it is one of the best programs I have ever heard of a school doing,? she said of Walking School Bus. ?They start on one end of town and as they walk toward the school, more kids join the group and walk together.

?Getting that extra exercise before they get there, the students sit down and are more ready to study.?

? Turn lanes at U.S. Highway 56 and Adams Street. The $335,265 project was funded entirely by KDOT.

?That was so necessary for anyone turning at that corner,? the mayor said in regard to the safety of motorists.

Workers with Maguire Iron Inc. paint the exterior of the newly repaired small water tower.
Workers with Maguire Iron Inc. paint the exterior of the newly repaired small water tower.

? Repairing the small water tower. The project ended up costing the city around $190,000, but it was offset by a $103,500 grant through the state?s Heritage Trust Fund.

?We had intended to just rehab it,? Dalke said about the 1927 tower, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. ?We hadn?t intended for the top to blow off during a windstorm and do all that damage.

?Because of that, other problems showed up. It was like when you rehab your house: whatever you do, something else is going to show up.?

? Assisting Tabor College with two building projects.

?We were able to move the sewer line for Tabor so they will be able to build their fine arts center, and we worked with Tabor to move waterlines by the baseball field so they could get their baseball facility started,? Dalke said.

?Those were projects we hadn?t really thought about ahead of time, but it?s one of the ways we can work with them and help them get their projects done,? she added.

?When so much money is donated into our community (because of Tabor), if we can do things to help to make those projects happen, I think it?s really important that we do it.?

A crew from Circle C Paving of Goddard applies the seal coat heading west on East Grand Avenue. The chip seal with an Axys mastic surface treatment was applied in July 2015 and still looked fresh as 2016 began.
A crew from Circle C Paving of Goddard applies the seal coat heading west on East Grand Avenue. The chip seal with an Axys mastic surface treatment was applied in July 2015 and still looked fresh as 2016 began.

? Main Street seal coat. In summer, several stretches of city streets received routine chip-seal procedure to increase longevity at a cost of $116,500.

The most noticeable component of the project was the chip seal with an Axys mastic surface treatment along Main Street and two blocks of Grand Avenue.

?I?m really pleased with that,? Dalke said. ?It?s been quite a while since we did that downtown project, and it still looks like a new project.

?The only thing we need downtown now is that some of the bricks need to be leveled,? she added. ?They went through and lifted a lot of them (during 2015), but we still need to do a lot of work on that.?

Looking to 2016

Leveling the ribbon of bricks downtown is only one of many projects on tap for 2016.

One of the most dramatic will be the construction of a new facility for Hillsboro Community Hospital.

Late in 2015, the city council approved a bond sale that essentially is a $1.25 million loan to bring utility infrastructure to the building site at the corner of Indus?trial Road and U.S. 56.

?We need to continue to work with the hospital as far as getting all the utilities out there,? Dalke said. ?The electricity already has been taken out there. Not only did we raise the money to pay for what we need to do, but now we need to do it.?

Dalke said turn lanes will need to be added at that intersection at some point.

?We had applied for money for that already several year ago, but when (KDOT) came out to look at it, there wasn?t anything there except the sign that said there was supposed to be a hospital there,? she said.

?We?re going to have to apply for that (funding) all over again. Hopefully, we can get money for it, but I don?t know.?

Construction of a $13 million fine arts center on the Tabor College campus will require the city?s involvement during 2016 or early 2017.

?After Tabor College builds the fine arts center, we?re going to have to rebuild Lincoln Street because it?s going to be torn up?we know that, with all the construction stuff going in and out,? Dalke said. ?And (rebuilding) B Street is part of that, too.?

Other potential city-directed projects during 2016 include bike paths and a major resurfacing of D Street.

?It?s been brought up over and over that it?s something we need,? Dalke said about bike paths. ?We were approached about it for D Street, and we?ve been approached about it going out to the new hospital.

?I don?t know if there?s anything that will be a 2016 project, but it?s one of the things we?ve been approached about.?

The D Street project, meanwhile, will be involved and expensive, according to the mayor.

?It?s time again to mill and overlay that street,? Dalke said. ?It?s scheduled for this year, but I don?t know with everything going on at Tabor whether we?ll be able to do it or not.?

The D Street project will have an additional complication this time.

?The last time we did it, we put that matting down to hold it,? Dalke said. ?Well, now they say that?s the worst thing we could have done because when they go to mill it, (the matting) is going to get caught up in it and they?re going to pull it all back off.?

Economic outlook

Dalke said she understands that residents may be concerned about the relatively recent closings of Wal-Mart, the Alco store and Heartland Foods.

She said Clint Seibel, who retired as the city?s economic development director during 2015, has since agreed to return part-time to help find tenants for the empty buildings while the search continues for his full-time successor.

Dalke said she knows the process to bring in new businesses is challenging, with no timeline guaranteed, but she remains optimistic about Hillsboro?s future.

?I?m so excited for 2016 that the hospital is going to be built and that Tabor?s projects are going to be built,? she said. ?I just think those are such major things for Hillsboro.

?The rest of it is, I hope we can keep a good, positive attitude and continue to work to replace the businesses that have left with other businesses that will fit the Hillsboro model of what it is we need?and that we will support those businesses if we can get people to open them.?