Done Deal/Hillsboro City Council approves purchase agreement for former hospital facility.

An agreement has been reached with EmpowerHMS to sell the former facility for Hillsboro Community Hospital at 710 S. Main. The purchase will be $400,000.
An agreement has been reached with EmpowerHMS to sell the former facility for Hillsboro Community Hospital at 710 S. Main. The purchase will be $400,000.
The Hillsboro City Coun­cil, meeting in special session on Monday, approved a purchase agreement to sell the former location of Hills­boro Community Hospital at 701 S. Main to EmpowerHMS for $400,000.

The property consists of a tract of about 3.7 acres. The agreement includes the legal work needed to create two parcels that separate Salem Home from the former hospital property.

Salem Home will continue to occupy its share of the facility without interruption.

Interest in the hospital property was first addressed at the city council’s Nov. 21 meeting. City Admin­istrator Larry Paine said the initial offer was communicated in a letter written by a representative of Rural Health Part­ners LLC.

The letter, addressed to Mayor Delores Dalke, expressed interest in acquiring the facility “to provide exceptional health care to our veterans right in their own community.”

The letter also stated that Rural Health Partners is currently the major stockholder in CAH Acquisition Co. LLC, owner of Hillsboro Com­munity Hospital.

The letter read in part: “Our push for the Super Choice program for veterans will provide the opportunity for veterans to be treated in their own communities, in facilities that have been certified to meet the standards necessary for rendering exceptional health care.”

Paine said at the time that a recent change in U.S. statutes allows veterans to be treated closer to their home and away from Veteran Admini­stration hospitals.

“This particular organization is setting up a not-for-profit that would take care of the veterans,” Paine said.

According to the agreement, EmpowerHMS will have 60 days to complete a due diligence inspection of the structure and attached mechanical components.

Upon a successful inspection, EmpowerHMS will pay the initial $200,000 within 15 days. The second $200,000 payment will be made at closing.

At the council’s Jan. 2 meeting, Paine suggested the contract be voted upon at the Jan. 8 meeting, which would include the swearing in of newly elected mayor, Lou Thurston, newly elected councilor, Jonah Gehring, and re-elected councilor Dave Loewen.

Paine said that approving the purchase agreement before Monday’s swearing in ceremony would bring appropriate closure to Mayor Delores Dalke’s tenure 24-year tenure.

“By doing that, it satisfies one objective that I’ve been trying to do here—to get this done on the mayor’s watch, which I thought was important,” Paine said. “It’s work that she has been heavily involved in, particularly for the last six to eight years. This (opportunity) just came up after the May opening (of the new hospital), and I think this is a fitting conclusion to her (tenure).”

Additional Jan. 2 agenda

The lead item on the council’s agenda was to continue a public hearing that was recessed orignally Oct. 3. The hearing was about unrepaired damage to a house located at 311 S. Eisen­hower and owned by Warren Deckert.

The hearing was recessed then for three month to give Deckert time to bring the property back to code.

City Attorney Josh Boehm, who led the Jan. 2 hearing, noted that no repairs were done until a few days prior to the council meeting.

“I have pictures…showing the original condition, some painting done on the eaves, as well as some siding on the north side,” Boehm said. “It still shows damaged windows and missing siding on the south (end) and some broken windows on the south end of the building.”

Susan Robson, an attorney retained by Deckert, noted: “I understand this has taken a lot longer than the city would have wanted. I know it’s taken longer than Mr. Deckert would have wanted. It appears that in the last two weeks to 10 days, he’s made significant progress and hopes to get a good portion of these things worked out in the next 30 days.

“It would be our request that you recess this hearing for 30 days, let him do the things he advised that is going to do,” she added, referencing the recent frigid weather.

In the end, the council voted 4-0 to recess the public hearing until Feb. 6 to give the homeowner more time.

Following the vote, Paine said city staff would concur with the recommendation, but Paine also expressed the need for follow-up prior to the Feb. 6 deadline.

“When we talked last week about this, we were at the point of suggesting doing this today, and then asking Mr. Deckert to come back to the next several council meetings to report progress,” he said.

Additional actions

Mayor Delores Dalke (lower right) enjoys her final moments as Hillsboro mayor as City Clerk Jan Meisinger leads the oath of office for newly elected mayor Lou Thurston as his wife, Lori, holds the family Bible. Thurston told the council and guests that he and the city should strive for the following things: “No. 1, responsible economic development; No. 2, maintaining and enhancing our essential services and infrastructure; No. 3, ensuring that Hillsboro is an affordable and family-friendly place to live, and most importantly, to work collaboratively with our citizens, our businesses, our schools and our county and state government. Hillsboro is a vibrant and strong community. Through our combined efforts, we will continue that positive growth, building on the strong foundation of Hillsboro’s heritage, growing Hillsboro together.”
Mayor Delores Dalke (lower right) enjoys her final moments as Hillsboro mayor as City Clerk Jan Meisinger leads the oath of office for newly elected mayor Lou Thurston as his wife, Lori, holds the family Bible. Thurston told the council and guests that he and the city should strive for the following things: “No. 1, responsible economic development; No. 2, maintaining and enhancing our essential services and infrastructure; No. 3, ensuring that Hillsboro is an affordable and family-friendly place to live, and most importantly, to work collaboratively with our citizens, our businesses, our schools and our county and state government. Hillsboro is a vibrant and strong community. Through our combined efforts, we will continue that positive growth, building on the strong foundation of Hillsboro’s heritage, growing Hillsboro together.”
In other business, the council:

• approved (4-0) a 2 percent salary increase for city staff in 2018, based on information from Social Security about the cost of living adjustments. Paine included an extra merit raise for Matt Hein as part of his proposal.

• adjourned for an executive session, to include mayor-elect Thurston and councilor-elect Gehring, to discuss the results of the evaluation completed on the city administrator’s performance. In public session, the council extended the 2 percent salary increase to include Paine as well (4-0).

• approved the purchase (4-0) of a 2014 Dodge Ram 1500 Trades­man pickup truck from Wright’s Inc. in Hillsboro for $16,850 to replace the small old pickup truck currently being used. The old truck will be taken to a Purple Wave auction.

“I have put off Morgan (Marler, water plant directors) for about six months because I wanted to make sure that at the end of the calendar year that we had cash available, and in sufficient amount, so we could do that without adversely affecting the budget,” Paine said.

Midway Motors and Hills­boro Ford also submitted bids.

• affirmed Bob Watson for his 10 years of service as a city council member. He received a plaque from the city as well as a poster featuring dogs playing poker.

“I certainly enjoyed being on the council and working with all of you, Larry and Delores,” Watson said. “I think we have a good city and would like to echo the remarks made by David (Loewen, fellow councilor) we have a very good group of employees.”

• reorganized the council during its Jan. 8 meeting. Brent Driggers was nominated and approved as council president; Loewen was reaffirmed as chair of the Public Building Commission.

• approved the following annual opponents: Bradley Jantz, municipal judge; city treasurer, Lawrence R. Paine; and city attorney, Joshua Boehm.

• approved Mayor Thurs­ton’s appointment of Clint Seibel to the Marion County Community Eco­nomic Develop­ment Corp.