2015 was a year for city projects

Workers with Circle C Paving of Goddard apply a seal coat to Grand Avenue and Main Street in downtown Hillsboro.
Workers with Circle C Paving of Goddard apply a seal coat to Grand Avenue and Main Street in downtown Hillsboro.
The year 2015 may be remembered most fort the plethora of visible upgrades and new projects that were completed or addressed.

The year began with the intent to clean up some ?dangerous structures? in town, but as many as 10 new project were addressed during the year, including renewed intent to begin building a long-awaited new hospital facility.

City Administrator Larry Paine joked that the city?s motto for the summer should be ?Pardon our dust,? with the anticipated start of a half-dozen projects.

January

The city coun?cil agreed at its Jan. 6 meeting to work toward having a 90-day cash reserve for each of its four primary service utilities: water, electric, sewer and trash.

After public hearings regarding four resolutions that address ?dangerous structures? in town, the city council took a variety actions in an effort to resolve the situations.

The city coun?cil agreed at a special meeting Jan. 21 to spend $13,900 to hire a pro?fes??sional consultant to help the city evaluate the future of its sanitation program.

The city?s Planning Commission voted unanimously Jan. 29 to recommend that the city council approve a special-use permit for USD 410 to develop a school farm on the elementary school campus. The two-hour meeting was a follow-up to a 21?2-hour meeting Dec. 11. About 20 people attended the first meeting, several of whom live in neighborhoods near the school and were critical of the project.

February

Hillsboro Community Found?a?tion board members presented grant checks totaling a record $16,900 Feb. 20 to 11 area organ?izations and programs serving Marion County children and families. The presentation occurred during halftime of the Hillsboro boys? basketball game with Hesston.

March

Unified School District 410 will be issued a special-use permit that will allow the creation of a ?school farm? on the elementary school campus following a 4-0 vote by the city coun?cil during March 3. The only patron to voice an opinion at the council meeting spoke in favor of the project.

April

A Vogts Parga Construction worker tamps sand in preparation for pouring the next leg of the Safe Routes to School sidewalk project.
A Vogts Parga Construction worker tamps sand in preparation for pouring the next leg of the Safe Routes to School sidewalk project.
The city of Hillsboro picked up recyclable curbside as an ?experimental week? April 27 through May 1. Residents were encouraged on their normal trash day to set out mixed recyclables by 8 a.m. in a separate cardboard box or plastic tote. Dale Dalke, city street supervisor, coordinated the experiment.

The turnout was small, but those who came had a lot to say to Rep. Don Schroeder and first-year State Sen. Rick Wilborn during the annual legislative coffee sponsored by the Chamber April 4. Of specific concern was the so-called ?block grant? school funding initiative that was rushed through the Legisla?ture and signed into law by Gov. Sam Brownback.

Hillsboro residential customers can expect to see the impact of a 5.2 percent rate increase for electricity when their city bill arrives June 1. The city council authorized the increase to offset the rising cost of power across Kansas.

The city coun?cil continued the city?s participation in the Kansas Power Pool after approving new organizational documents for the municipal energy agency. KPP operates as an energy broker for member cities with the intent of securing lower energy prices by negotiating for quan?tity discounts.

May

Trinity Mennonite Church decided that feeding the hungry should begin with the children living in the Hillsboro area. The congregation has taken on the goal of organizing a community-wide ?Summer Food 4 Kids? program from May 25 through Aug. 14.

The city coun?cil approved during its May 5 meeting a street-seal plan for 2015 that will include all of Main Street and several street sections in various parts of town. Circle C Paving of God?dard submitted the low bid of $116,500.

Between the city, local school district and Tabor College, residents and visitors can expect no fewer than six significant infrastructure projects to begin in the coming months: a $215,000 project to replace playgrounds at the elementary school, a $250,000 Safe Routes to School sidewalk project, a routine chip-seal procedure to increase longevity at a cost of $116,500; a $101,626 seal-coat project at the airport; a $335,265 project to build turn lanes at the intersection of Adams Street and U.S. Highway 56, and an estimated $159,360 to repair the city?s small water tower. These projects will require only $266,860 in local taxpayer dollars.

With city support, Mark Cox, of Vintage Construc?tion, LLC, was approved for tax credits to build six duplexes, or 12 total residential units. These would be three-bedroom, two-bath units with a family room in the basement and a living room, dining room and kitchen on the main floor, according to Mayor Delores Dalke.

June

The city coun?cil approved the purchase of a new slide to replace ?the old slipper slide? at Memorial Park. Doug Sisk, recreation director, said the new slide will be 8 feet tall and 16 feet long and will be purchased from to Miracle Recre?ation Equip?ment Co. for $7,648. The action was taken in response to an accident on the old slide that injured a child.

July

The familiar Statue of Liberty replica that arrived in Hillsboro 65 years was celebrated July 2 by the local Lions Club with an ?Armed Forces Night? fund?raiser meal at the farmers market in Memorial Park.

As is the case for many home-repair projects, the city council was informed during its July 6 meeting that a previously undetected problem with the city?s ?little water tower? will require additional work and expense. The council accepted a change order from Maguire Iron Inc. to weld in place a 117-square-foot panel of quarter-inch steel because the rivets in the problem area were no longer holding, resulting in leakage.

July

The Hillsboro City Coun?cil agreed at its July 21 meeting to send certified letters of notice to the owners of four ?unsafe and dangerous? properties who have yet to comply with previous directives from the city to repair or remove those properties.

August

Despite strong opposition from a local physician and his spouse and former office manager, the city council approved at its Aug. 4 meeting a development agreement with HMC/CAH Consolidated Inc. to support the construction of a $11.4 million facility for Hills?boro Com?munity Hos?pital. The agreement would have the city initiating a bond issue not to exceed $1.275 million to pay the up-front costs of putting in electric, water, sewer and parking lot. The agreement obligates HMC/CAH, which owns the hospital, to repay the bond over 23 years, the length of the USDA loan issued through Bank of Hays.

The city coun?cil agreed at its Aug. 18 meeting that the best option among several costly ones is to replace the top two 6-foot-tall steel rings of the small water tower for an additional cost of $91,800.

The city posted warning signs at the retaining pond in the Hills?boro Heights development after discovering a major blue-green algae bloom. The most visible evidence of the contamination was at the overflow at the northeast corner of the pound, where the thick, blue-green sludge-like bloom was plainly visible and odorous.

September

The Hillsboro Fire Depart?????ment received a green ?light from the city council to establish a cadet firefighter program for high school-age youth. The program will enable youth who are at least 14 years old and interested in being a firefighter to train alongside department personnel. Partici?pants would be eligible to become full-fledged volunteers with the department when they reach age 18.

Near-perfect conditions made the 46th Hillsboro Arts & Crafts Fair one of the smoothest events in recent memory, according to organizers. Visitor participation was estimated by law enforcement to be 45,000 to 50,000, and was steady throughout the day, according to Penni Schroeder, fair director.

The Hillsboro Museums Advisory Board welcomed between 150 and 200 people to the first ?MuseumFest? Sunday afternoon, Sept. 27, at the Loewen ?Adobe? Com?plex and Scout House.

October

The city coun?cil confirmed Brent Driggers as the successor to Councilor Shelby Dirks as a representative of the city?s West Ward during its Oct. 6 meeting. Dirks, who had served in that capacity for 131?2 years, resigned his seat when he changed his residence from the West Ward to the East Ward. Drig?gers, 39, is a Hills?boro native and 1994 graduate of Hills?boro High School.

The city coun?cil agreed at Oct. 20 to pre-purchase pipe that will be used to relocate some waterline in an effort to accommodate the construction of a new indoor training facility for baseball at Tabor College. Rerouting the waterline, which is connected to the city?s large water tower, is necessary because the location of the new training facility would otherwise be built over the existing waterlines, which is not allowed by city code.

November

Workers from Maguire Iron Inc. from South Dakota were in Hillsboro to replace the lid and top two rings of the city?s small water tower with the help of a huge crane. The original lid was blown off during a windstorm in Septem?ber 2014. Repairs began earlier this year, but workers later discovered additional problems. The project will cost $289,140, but because the tower is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the city received a Heritage Grant of $103,000 to offset some of the expense.

By unanimous vote, city coun?cil approved a resolution that starts the process of funding up to $1.5 million in site improvements for the construction of a new hospital facility.

December

Hillsboro City Admini?strator Larry Paine told the city council that the city?s proactive tree-trimming program was a big reason the town escaped major electrical outages during the Thanks?giving weekend ice storm. Paine said city crews responded to 51 outages around town, but almost all of them were the result of falling tree bran?ches knocking down secondary lines running from the city pole to the residence.

Referenced as an ?historic moment,? the city coun?cil approved during its Dec. 15 meeting the necessary resolutions and ordinances to authorize the sale of bonds in the amount of $1.305 million to provide infrastructure for the construction of a new hospital. Of that amount, $1.25 million will be used for construction-related costs, and the rest to cover legal expenses and cost of issuance.