2017: Year in Review- Major building projects completed by year’s end

Hillsboro Community Hospital staff join city representatives and other dignitaries for the ceremonial ribbon-cutting marking the opening of the new $11.4 million hospital on May 4 as hospital CEO Marion Regier readies her scissors. The project was originally promised almost nine years ago, and “groundbreaking” was celebrated in 2010.The year 2017 will be remembered for the completion of several significant building projects: nearly $1.4 million for six twin homes through Vintage Apart­ments; $11.4 million for a the city’s for-profit hospital; $13 million for Tabor College’s Shari Flaming Center for the Arts; $2.1 million for a new headquarters for MB Foun­da­tion, and a new building and location for Hillsboro Hometown Pharmacy.


Jeanie Bartel was hired to fill the vacant position and began as library director Jan. 3. After nearly 20 years serving as the library director, Cathy Fish retired in December 2016.

The Hillsboro City Coun­cil authorized Mayor Delores Dalke Jan. 10 to sign the city’s letter of intent to approve a new purchase-power agreement with the Kansas Power Pool for the next 20 years.


The Hillsboro City Coun­cil affirmed at its Feb. 7 meeting a list of water-line related projects identified around the city that were projected to cost in the neighborhood of $4.5 million. The affirmation provided City Admin­istrator Larry Paine with direction for the scope of work needed to upgrade the city’s water lines.

In 2014, the board of Hills­boro Community Founda­tion set a goal to reach $2 million in total assets. At the time, HCF was sitting at $1.61 million. On the heels of achieving the $2 million target, Hills­boro Community Found­a­tion board members presented grant checks totaling $20,483 to 13 organ­iza­tions and programs serving Marion County children, families and seniors. The presentations were made Feb. 17 during halftime of the Hillsboro High School boys’ basketball game with Hesston.

The city coun­cil agreed to purchase a sizeable piece of play equipment for Memorial Park during its Feb. 21 meeting. The Pegasus climbing net, valued at $17,428, will “challenge kids and provide an exciting piece of equipment for them to play on,” according to City Admini­strator Larry Paine.


Mayor Delores Dalke updated the city council about her efforts to strengthen local ambulance service, which she described as “a great big mess.” “We do not have enough volunteers because the people who were volunteering were hired as full-time people to work out of Marion,” Dalke said near the end of the council’s March 7 meeting. “So we’re really hurting during the day, and there are several days every week when we don’t have any ambulance service here in town.”

Despite temperatures in the mid-30s and a strong south wind to boot, constituents from Grace Com­munity Fellowship gathered after church services to break ground for their new meeting facility. Located just south of the city works yard, the building will be about 18,000 square feet and is estimated to cost $1.2 million.

The Hillsboro Police Department asked residents to take precautions when leaving vehicles unlocked around the city. Police Chief Dan Kinning said during the late night and early morning hours of March 17-19, someone entered about 33 vehicles in Hillsboro.


Acting on the recommendation of the Police Chief Dan Kinning, the city council at its April 18 meeting denied the request of the Marion County Fair Board to establish a beer garden as part of the fair’s demolition derby this summer; fair board members said the beer garden would be a way to help fund the fair, a challenge they said has become increasingly difficult in recent years.


The city coun­cil gave the green light for a new housing development during its May 2 meeting. Council members voted unanimously to approve a zoning change from agricultural to R-2 Residential for the 30 acres north of Third Street owned by Russell Groves of Hills­boro, and also approved the development’s preliminary and final plats.

At the close of the May 2 city council meeting, Mayor Delores Dalke alerted council members that the city would be without ambulance service during nine days in May. “Don’t get sick this month,” Dalke said.

With a master’s degree from Harvard in hand, and 11 years experience as a financial adviser for oil companies in Kazakhstan under his belt, Steve Fast accepted a unique career change as part-time museums coordinator in Hills­boro. Fast was hired by the city in March for 15 hours a week primarily to lead tours at the Adobe House and Schaeffler House.

Nine representatives from Hillsboro attended the May 15 county commission meeting to voice concerns about having no ambulance coverage on certain days in May. A letter from the Hillsboro Development Corp addressed the health and safety of groups in Hills­boro: two residential nursing homes, transportation to and from the local hospital, about 300 to 400 manufacturing-related employees, and a high traffic count on U.S. Highway 56.


Economic leadership in Hillsboro is featuring a youthful look these days with the hiring of Anthony Roy, 23, as the city’s new development director. Roy succeeds Clint Seibel, who has retired after 10 years in that role.

With staff members participating, Jon Wiebe, president and CEO of MB Founda­­tion, cut the ceremonial ribbon for the $2.1 million project at the corner or Washington and D streets in Hillsboro.

The city council liked the idea of building an 8-foot-wide lighted concrete sidewalk along the former railroad bed from Main Street to Industrial Road, then north to the new hospital location. The coun­cil approved at its June 20 meeting a resolution declaring the city’s eligibility to apply for a Kansas Depart­ment of Transportation grant of $450,000 grant to make the project happen.


About 60 people turned out July 1 for the opening of the Hillsboro Museums’ exhibit of immigrant and traveling trunks that Men­nonites from South Russia and Poland used to immigrate to the United States nearly 150 years ago.

The big slide at the Hills­boro Family Aquatic Center was officially closed to public use July 1, thanks to a new law passed by the Kansas Legislature. The “Kansas Amuse­ment Ride Act and the Amuse­ment Ride Insurance Act” states no amusement ride shall be operated in Kansas unless a valid permit for such a ride has been issued by the Kansas Depart­ment of Labor. The slide was reopened later in the year.

Local ambivalence about the county’s latest economic development effort collided with the reality of city budget limitations during the July 5 special meeting of the Hills­boro City Council. Russell Groves, the new chair of the Marion County Community Eco­nomic Develop­ment Corp., was at the meeting “to invite the city of Hillsboro to join our mission.”

The coun­cil declined to make a decision July 18 about the city’s participation in the MCCEDC. As before, the council’s overarching concern was the city’s 2018 budget proposal, which at this meeting was indicating a 5-mill increase for the coming year.

Edmund Steiner, 101, a resident of Salem Home in Hillsboro, was selected by Area Agencies on Aging in Kansas to be honored to throw the ceremonial first pitch at the 83rd National Baseball Congress World Series in Wichita.


The city coun­cil, at its Aug. 1 meeting, once again put off a decision regarding the city’s involvement in the new countywide economic development initiative.

At its Aug. 15 meeting, the city council voted 3-1 to keep $44,500 in the proposed 2018 budget to enable the city to participate as a full partner in the newly created MCCEDC.

Workers from Roofing Service Unlimited of New­ton repaired the chimney at the Adobe House Museum. The larger project includes various repairs and upgrades, from walls to electrical systems. The work is being underwritten with a $69,000 grant from the Kan­sas Heritage Trust Fund.


Hillsboro will be receiving a $600,000 KDOT grant to have a bypass lane and turn lane added at the intersection of U.S. Highway 56 and Indus­trial Road, a secondary road that leads to two major distributors and Hillsboro Community Hospital.

Two departments within the city of Hillsboro and two from Marion County worked together for an emergency safety plan just in time for the Arts and Crafts Fair. Hillsboro Police Chief Dan Kinning said it was the first time a plan like this was put into action, involving Hills­boro law enforcement and fire department, Marion County EMS and Emergency Management

The Lifelong Learning program at Tabor College hosted a forum Friday for the two candidates running for mayor of Hillsboro. Charlotte Kennedy-Takashi and Lou Thurston addressed a gathering of about 85 people in the Parkview Menno­nite Breth­ren Church Activity Center. The forum was moderated by Ron Braun, Tabor’s vice president of advancement.

During the Sept. 19 city council meeting, Rosemary Saunders of Ranson Financial Consul­tants updated the council regarding the Community Building Devel­op­ment Grant the city intends to use for its street project

The city of Hillsboro was officially awarded a $628,057 grant through KDOT for the construction of an 8-foot-wide lighted sidewalk from Main Street to Hillsboro Community Hos­pital. The entire project is estimated to cost $785,072 with the city supplying $157,014 as a local match.


The city coun­cil passed a resolution Oct. 3 authorizing the repair or replacement of East B Street now that the Tabor College fine arts center exterior structure is nearly complete. City Administrator Larry Paine said the initial construction damage to the street occurred when the city relocated the sewer line.


Lou Thur­ston became mayor-elect of Hillsboro with 520 votes over opponent Charlotte Kennedy Taka­hashi with 200 in the Nov. 7 local election. Thurston’s win marked the beginning of a new era. “It’s an honor to be at the beginning of that era,” he said.

The city received a corporate offer to purchase the east half of the city-owned building on South Main Street that formerly housed Hills­boro Com­munity Hospital. The purchase price of $400,000 was briefly discussed during the Nov. 21 meeting.


Cynthia Fleming, Hillsboro Com­munity Foundation director, said she learned from Jayson Hanschu, Ameri­can Family Insurance agent, that HCF would be one of several non-profit groups to receive $3,000 in celebration of the company’s 90th anniversary.

The police department began switching from its conventional VHF radio system to a UHF or 800-megahertz system. “We know we will have a big increase in the clarity from these radios,” Kinning said. “And we will be able to talk to our officers no matter where they are in the state.” The cost of each mobile unit was $2,100, and the portables were $1,500 each, for a total cost of $35,287, which included accessories.

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