Census shows growth for Hillsboro city

Even with Marion County losing 5.25 percent of its population over the past 10 years, at least one?maybe two? Marion County communities actually grew from 2000 to 2010.

U.S. Census records show Hillsboro with a population gain of 4.8 percent, from 2,854 residents in 2000 to 2,993 in 2010.

Meanwhile, the numbers for Ramona showed the small community in the northeast corner of the county experienced a virtual population explosion?nearly doubling the number of residents from 94 to 187.

But city officials said they are confident the numbers are in error.

?One reason the 2010 census may be so high?30 over our wildest estimate?was the nature of the census takers,? Mayor Pat Wick said. ?We had so many people coming, going, checking, rechecking and re-re-checking that it got to be hilarious.

?Whenever we saw a lost car, someone wandering around with paper and pencil, we knew there was another census employee in town.?

Wick said the results for Ramona will be reviewed.

Meanwhile, Hillsboro city leaders were pleased to see their population increase.

?To me, this is a great public relations thing for the community because we can say our community is growing?and there is proof of that,? said City Administrator Larry Paine.

?From that aspect, it?s a great piece of news. Not too many communities across the state can say their community is growing.?

Mayor Delores Dalke attributed the growth to the city?s quality of life.

?It?s got to do with our economic environment and our focus on building businesses, both downtown and along the highway,? she said.

?I also think our good schools are playing a big role in this. Not just because people who have children move here, but because it makes Hillsboro stand out by having such good schools.

?We also have good retirement facilities, we?re progressive and we have an attractive business district.?

In addition to Tabor College?s role as the county?s leading employer and the educational, athletic and cultural programs it offers, the college?s role in Hillsboro?s population growth may have a tangible benefit.

Census-takers include residential college students in its count, and Tabor has experienced record enrollment each of the past three years.

?If there are more students here, then more are living here in town,? Dalke said. ?Plus, as Tabor increases its enrollment, more people are needed to work there, so that draws more people to live here, too.?

Deanne Duerksen, registrar at the college, said the school did not receive a final tally of the number of students included by the Census Bureau.

Dalke said the release of the census results over the past two weeks was both encouraging and discouraging for her.

?After I had heard all these things about supposedly Marion County was over 10 percent down, I was really discouraged,? Dalke said. ?Then, when I found (Hillsboro) had grown, I got kind of excited. Then I got kind of disappointed that we hadn?t grown more.?

Dalke said she?s not as disappointed as some people that Marion County didn?t lose enough residents to qualify for tax incentives through Gov. Sam Brownback?s plan for ?rural opportunity zones.?

?I?ve heard people say we?re not going to get those extra goodies that the governor was trying to hand out,? Dalke said. ?Well, I?m sorry, but I would hate to have to say, ?Well, since our population dropped more than 10 percent that?s why we can offer you things.?

?That?s not a positive way to sell our community at all.?

Dalke said she hopes Hills?boro?s growth trend continues.

?I am excited, and with spring coming on, I?m seeing more people being interested in doing things in Hillsboro,? she said. ?I am really excited about the future, even though its encouraging and discouraging for Marion County as a whole.?

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