2012: THE YEAR IN REVIEW

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New streets pave path to progress

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Three street-replacement projects were the most visible evidence of progress in the city of Hillsboro during 2012. In addition, local leaders did preliminary work to prepare for additional street projects in the year ahead, including two designed to enhance the safety of local highway travelers and school children.

Beyond official city business, Hillsboro residents, organizations and businesses contributed in a variety of ways to make the year meaningful and memorable.

Following is a summary of highlights and challenges through the past 12 months.

 

JANUARY

Two secret Santas, each unbeknown to the other, paid off all the layaway accounts at the Alco store in Hillsboro before Dec. 25. The payoffs were ?in the hundreds, approaching the thousands of dollars,? according to Robert Strong, store manager.

Upon the recommendation of the city?s Planning and Zoning Commission, the city council approved an ordinance Jan. 24 that would allow a sporting goods and gun sales business within Hillsboro Heights or Hillsboro Business Park. A client is looking at property within those two developments for a business that would attract Marion Reservoir traffic driving by on U.S. Highway 56.

Mayor Delores Dalke told the city council she intends to reactive the former Hillsboro Museums Advisory Board for the purpose of developing a management plan for the city?s museums. The museums, which included the Adobe House Museum and the Schaeffler House, have been mostly inactive for more than a year after the city eliminated funding for staff.

The council authorized the signing of an oil and gas lease for 19 more acres of city-owned ground. Chaz Doffing, land-leasing agent with J. Fred Ham?bright Inc. of Wichita, said the addition would unify the acreage in the area of interest and make it easier to access potential oil for adjoining landowners once hydraulic drilling begins.

The city received word that its application for $400,000 in grant funding through the Kansas Department of Com?merce was fully approved. The money will be used to make improvements to Birch, Cedar and Date streets.

FEBRUARY

Local law enforcement officials are concerned about the latest method of cooking metham??phetamine known as ?shake-and-bake.? Hillsboro Police Chief Dan Kinning said neither he nor his officers have come across it, but it is definitely on the rise and is dangerous.

Members of the city council agreed that while it?s appropriate to share staff expertise and resources within the county, it would not be wise to become involved with the volatile issue of inspecting trailer homes at Marion County Lake.

Hillsboro Community Found?a?tion celebrated reaching $1 million in managed assets Feb. 7 by giving away free cookies and awarding a record $14,000 in grants to 10 area public-service organ?izations and causes.

Vogts-Parga Construction began replacing one block of A Street between Main and Washington streets as the first face of a major street-replacement project planned for 2012.

MARCH

The city council agreed to grant an exception to the city?s fireworks ordinance, and allow a private business to host a fireworks display in the city?s downtown area next month in conjunction with a fundraiser for the Hillsboro Senior Center. Charles Rempel made the request on behalf of the HSC board, which he serves as president, and Charlie?s Fireworks, a business he owns and operates.

Nearly 60 teenagers from four Hillsboro churches banded together to battle world hunger as part of a 30-hour famine. Youth pastors from the Park?view, Ebenfeld and Hillsboro Mennonite Brethren churches and the Hillsboro United Methodist Church, plus 15 sponsors, took part in the activities.

USD 410 will be developing a contract for leasing facility space to a Newton-based group proposing to start a new church in the Hillsboro community. The project, to be called Grace@Hillsboro includes several local residents.

The board of directors for the Hillsboro Com?munity Founda?tion approved the creation of a permanent arts endowment. ?The goal is $150,000, of which $50,000 has been pledged,? said Keith Harder, HCF board chair.

Eighteen people representing city government, business and education?including two high school students and two college students?participated March 27 in a city-sponsored mini-retreat called the ?Youth Engagement and Entrepre?neurship Initia?tive.? The focus of the meeting was finding ways to have more local young people make Hillsboro their future home. The project included surveys filled out by 200 middle and high school students, 100 Tabor College students and 15 to 20 resident young adults.

APRIL

Dusten Plenert, a seventh-grader at Hillsboro Middle School, was one of only six youth from across the state to participate in the 26th annual Kansas Gover?nors One Shot Turkey Hunt at El Dorado. More than 40 youth applied.

The Hillsboro City Council settled on a solution during its April 17 meeting for locating the local farmers? market this season. At least to start with, the market will be located in the Emprise Bank courtyard along Main Street. The market was moved because of sodding the Schaeffler House lawn.

MAY

Residential and commercial utility customers in Hillsboro soon will have the option of receiving their monthly city bill via e-mail. City Administrator Larry Paine said plans to open the service for general use with delivery of the June bills.

One or more thieves broke into the city?s maintenance shop, loaded copper wire and specialized electrical equipment onto a 2003 city-owned pickup truck parked inside the shop and drove off.

Nearly all of the city of the staff worked May 23 to lay the new sod lawn on the William F. Schaeffler House lawn. Work began early in the morning and was completed by lunch time. With the addition of the grass, the exterior work at the historic home is all but complete. Last year the roof was replaced and chimneys repaired with state funding assistance. Earlier this year, city workers removed some old trees on the front yard and planted two new ones, replaced the sidewalks and installed two classic yard lamps.

An anonymous person bought hundreds of dollars worth of books at Thee Book?store and donated them to the Hillsboro Public Library. Brenda Hamm, Thee Bookstore owner, said the person told her she appreciated the bookstore and wanted to do something to help before it closed permanently.

JUNE

Some 340 counselors and campers converged on the Tabor College campus for the Menno?nite Brethren junior camp.

The city council agreed to allow a portion of North Main Street to be barricaded July 3 for a community block party and fireworks show. Mike Boese, 217 N. Main, asked the city to close roughly the north half of the 200 block from 8 p.m. to about 11 p.m. for the Independence Day celebration.

The two major street projects under way in Hillsboro this summer demonstrated continuing progress. Vogts-Parga Construc?tion poured the last major section of the half-mile North Adams Street replacement project while workers with Laforge Construction worked on driveway entries along First Street in preparation for pouring the first three blocks of that street. The project will replace the old street from Adams west to Ash Street.

JULY

City Administrator Larry Paine said city officials will meet with a representative from the South Central Kansas Economic Develop?ment District to discuss the possibility of securing a Community Develop?ment Block Grant to redo Com?mercial and Santa Fe streets in the Hillsboro Industrial Park.

The city council approved the sale of two lots in Hillsboro Heights and an option to purchase one lot in Hillsboro Business Park. The two lots in Hillsboro Heights were purchased by Melvin Reimer of Hillsboro for $13,500 with the intent of building an auto-detail shop and sales showroom. The council agreed to accept $2,000 from Fei ?George? Yang, owner of the local Panda Kitchen restaurant, for an option to buy the lot in Hillsboro Business Park.

AUGUST

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The city council approved a zoning change for a portion of the Carriage Hills housing development on the city?s south side. Hillsboro resident Darrell Driggers has plans to develop the south portion of Carriage Hills into single-family and multi-family residences. The development previously had been zoned for single-family residences.

In an effort to control odor issues at the city?s lagoon ponds, the council approved an engineering contract with EBH Associates to develop a test that would introduce oxygen into the system, and a separate effort to examine gas concentrations of hydrogen sulfide at several lift stations.

Hillsboro residents will begin seeing improvements in their broadband service, according to Dennis Weese, Eagle Communi?ca?tions community relations. About 30 people attended the meeting at Hillsboro City Hall to hear the latest updates in technology related to Internet service, telephone and cable tele?vision through the Hays-based company.

SEPTEMBER

Cooperation between local public entities was credited as a key reason city leaders received that the Kansas Depart?ment of Transportation has awarded Hillsboro two grants totaling almost $900,000 that should enhance the safety of residents. A grant of $627,400 will go toward the construction of deceleration and acceleration lanes off U.S. Highway 56 onto Adams Street, and a grant of $250,000 will go toward the construction of better sidewalks for children through KDOT?s Safe Routes to School program. Con?struction on both project should begin in spring or summer 2013.

Coming off an unusually hot and dry summer, maybe the dose of cool and damp weather helped draw a larger crowd to the 43rd annual Hillsboro Arts & Crafts Fair. Some 40,000 to 45,000 people came, judging by the number of cars scrambling for parking spaces around town.

A local family joined with extended family members this weekend to celebrate their ties with Kansas State University. Quentin and Shari Morford of rural Hillsboro and their three children?all K-State graduates?were feted Saturday in Manhattan as part of the university?s 2012 Family of the Year.

OCTOBER

Local historian Raymond F. Wiebe established a $50,000 endowment through the Hills?boro Community Founda?tion to ensure the future of the Adobe House Museum and preserve the history of Mennonite culture.

The Hillsboro City Council approved an engineering contract with Evans, Bierly, Hutchi?son & Associates that will launch the design stage for the Safe Routes to School project. The cost of engineering was contracted at $28,175 with the city and USD 410 splitting the bill.

Russell and Jeanne Groves are so convinced of the value of the local public library that they?re preparing to sell the artistic works of their late parents to raise money for its expansion. The Groves rented the storefront at 110 N. Main as a gallery to display and sell their parents? creations as well as for other artists to donate their work as well.

NOVEMBER

The city council approved the sale of one lot in Hillsboro Heights and an option to buy an adjoining lot during its Nov. 6 meeting. Craig Dodd, who currently operates a gunshop out of a small building near Jost Fabri?ca?tion in Hillsboro Heights, submitted a proposal regarding two full lots across the street from his present location, which is along Western Heights Street.

Greg Auerbach figured when he pedaled into Hillsboro with 1,530 miles under his belt that he was halfway to his immediate goal of bicycling from Philadel?phia to Los Angeles. His long?term goal is to help end diabetes. He was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when he was 4.

Sixth- and seventh-graders at Hillsboro Middle School may have an opportunity to participate in a local ?adventure? this summer. The city council gave a green light to the creation of Hillsboro Youth Adventure, a program that intends to use fun and food to teach students entering the seventh and eighth grades about the inner workings of their community.

DECEMBER

The food bank at Main Street Ministries received an anonymous donation of one ton of potatoes. Dale Nuss, chairman of the board, delivered the potatoes using a forklift. Leah Rose, food bank director, said on a slow month, the food bank will see about 40 families; in Novem?ber and December, the number can climb as high as 120 to 150.

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