Hillsboro area weathers a challenging year

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For the city of Hillsboro, a good portion of 2011 was spent planning projects for the coming year.

One exception to that trend was the erection in fall of a $50,000 playground tower in Memorial Park. The project was planned by an ad hoc committee of citizens that also raised money to pay for it.

JANUARY

Marvin Rediker, 84, of Hills?boro received a gift this Christ?mas he thought he?d never see: The three medals he earned more than 63 years ago for serving in the Army near the end of World War II.

Hillsboro city administrator Larry Paine and the county commissioners agreed that the plat outlined for them by the county appraiser?s office showed the city?s tax increment financing district didn?t include the new Midway Motors development, as intended. Instead, the legal plat included only the area generally known as the AMPI property. Paine said the TIF district also was to include all of Hillsboro Business Park, including the auto dealership.

The Local Lions/Leo clubs and Kiwanis Club both presented checks of $10,000 to the city of Hillsboro to help fund the volunteer effort to bring new playground equipment to Memorial Park.

The city council accepted the compromise deal negotiated with the Marion County commissioners regarding the city?s tax-increment financing district. The city will be allowed to correct the errors on the plat and keep almost all of the property-tax increase for the portion of Hillsboro Business Park that contains the new dealership. The city agreed to consult with the county before making additional improvements in the park.

 

FEBRUARY

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Celebrate Recovery leader Josh Gill said the Christian-based program involved around 100 people in its first year of existence.

The Hillsboro Community Foundation distributed a total of $12,000 in Impact Grants to 14 area organizations and programs.

City administrator Larry Paine led a public meeting Feb. 16 inviting input on the future of local historical properties, including the Schaeffler House, the Peter Paul Loewen House and the Friesen Mill. About 35 people attended the meeting.

A free class teaching the techniques of cardio pulmonary resuscitation drew about 25 people Feb. 19. The class was co-sponsored by Parkview Church and Hillsboro Community Hospital.

MARCH

The city council approved an interlocal agreement with Marion March 1 for the purpose of funding a plan to protect the cities? water supply from the rising population of zebra mussels at Marion Reservoir. The cost of an initial pilot study and design engineering was capped at $100,000.

City officials were developing a plan for some major street-replacement projects in 2012. First Street and North Adams are the primary targets. To pay for the projects, the city plans to use the $50,000 payment it has been using to pay off an old bond to finance a new 20-year bond estimated at $1.2 million.

Mayor Delores Dalke presented resident Paul Jantzen with a plaque honoring his 30 consecutive years of service on the city?s tree board.

Even with Marion County losing 5.25 percent of its population over the past 10 years, the U.S. Census reported that Hills?boro gained 4.8 percent in population, from 2,854 in 2000 to 2,993 in 2010.

At the request of a local store owner, the city council voted 3-1 March 15 to allow liquor and cereal-malt beverage sales on Sundays. Council members said the vote was based on economics because the ban on Sunday sales drives away potential customers and tax dollars.

APRIL

The city?s tree board urged residents to take action before May 1 against pine-wilt disease, which has claimed at least 40 Scotch pines within the city. The only remedy for an infected tree is to remove it.

The Hillsboro Mennonite Brethren Church announced it would be closing Kids Connection, its day-care and preschool, effective May 27. Following additional meetings with parents and church members, the congregation approved a plan to extend the closure date to Aug.12. In fall, the congregation voted to keep the center open indefinitely with new leadership and organizational structure in place.

The city council agreed April 19 to close three blocks of D Street for seven days in summer to accommodate Wagoner?s Carnival, which may be the largest carnival ever to come to the Marion County Fair.

MAY

Hillsboro hit 100 degrees May 9, which was the highest recorded temperature ever for that day, and the earliest day in the year to record triple digits. The average high temperature for May is 73 degrees.

The city council was introduced to a proposal at its May 3 meeting to create a new fire district that would include the cities of Hillsboro and Lehigh and all or part of several surrounding rural townships. The proposal was presented by the Combined Township Board, an ad hoc group representing the four townships.

With Hillsboro?s police dog, Rico, facing pending retirement, Brad Richards, a patrol officer and K-9 handler, spoke to with area organizations with the hope of collecting money to acquire a new dog.

The city council agreed May 3 to move ahead with an engineering agreement to prepare a Safe Routes to School grant application for the Kansas Department of Transportation, even though it is not certain money will be available to complete the project.

Norman Mueller, who served with the 3rd Armored Unit attached to the 1st Marine Division from 1943 to January 1946, participated in an Honor Flight Network excursion to Washington, D.C., to see the World War II?Memorial and other related attractions.

JUNE

The McPherson County attorney office charged a 24-year-old McPherson man in the death of former Hillsboro resident Justin Milne, 30. Milne?s body was discovered at Marion Reservoir in the remains of a burned vehicle.

The city council decided at its June 7 meeting to reverse its earlier decision to allow alcohol sales on Sunday when it was faced with a legal petition that would require the city to hold a special election on the matter by July 1. The petition was brought to the council by an ad hoc group of local residents.

A 3-year-old Marion girl nearly drowned at the Hillsboro Aquatic Center June 12, but was saved by lifeguards and local volunteers.

The city council tabled action June 7 after hearing that an engineering contract to plan strategy to protect the water source at Marion Reservoir from zebra mussel could cost as much as $450,000?well above the initial estimate of between $50,000 and $100,000.

The city was approved for a $25,000 grant from the Kansas Health Foundation for new playground equipment at Memorial Park. The grant brought the planning committee to within $15,000 of its $75,000 goal.

At its June 28 meeting, the city council indicated its intention to give aquatic center personnel authority to establish and enforce safety rules and procedures. The discussion arose out of a review of procedures following a near-drowning incident earlier in the month.

The city council agreed June 28 to participate with Marion in a $25,000 pilot study to determine of an experimental strategy to protect the two cities? water source from the exploding population of zebra mussels at Marion Reservoir.

JULY

Elaine Lowry, widow of former fire chief Wayne Lowry, presented the Hillsboro Fire Department with a new Fire Pup costume. The old costume, used for school appearances, was about 20 years old.

AUGUST

The three farmers? cooperatives in Marion County?Cooper?a?tive Grain & Supply, Mid Kansas Cooperative and Agri-Producers Inc.?collaborated to donate to the Hillsboro Fire Department a $3,000 chute used for emergency extractions during grain accidents.

The Hillsboro post office asked customers to install curbside mailboxes to keep operating costs down. It was already mandatory for new residents to erect a curbside mailbox when they move into a house.

After almost a year of fund?raising, Tammy Chizek, a resident of Parkside Homes battling multiple sclerosis, received her new $16,000 wheelchair.

Hillsboro?s 84-year-old water tower passed a preliminary hurdle for placement on the National Register of Historic Places by getting a positive recommendation from the Kansas Historical Society.

The city council approved construction contracts and the appointment of a grant administrator for proposed street projects. In addition to bond money, the council is hoping to receive up to $400,000 through a Com?munity Development Block Grant for some of the improvements.

SEPTEMBER

With a reprieve from triple-digit temperatures, the Hillsboro Arts & Crafts Fair enjoyed crowds estimated to be between 35,000 and 40,000 people Sept. 17. Penni Schroeder, in her first year as fair director, said 90 percent of craft vendors reported solid sales.

A small crew of volunteers built a mobility ramp Sept. 24 for Phouthy ?Paul? and Sisanguane ?Susan? Chanthasaeng at their house along Adams Street. The couple arrived a year ago following a long pilgrimage that began when hard-line communism overtook Laos in the 1970s.

OCTOBER

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Some 45 descendants of Adelgunda Penner Suderman Dueck gathered at Gnadenau Cemetery near Hillsboro to dedicate the first grave marker for their ancestor more than 123 years following her death. She was initially buried in a family pasture, then her remains were transferred to the present cemetery but in an unmarked grave.

The city council passed an ordinance specifically outlawing J-turns on any city street marked with a centerline. Violators can be ticketed and face a $50 fine plus $60 in court costs.

The city council tabled a request from an agent with Wichita-based J. Fred Ham?bright & Associates to lease a portion of city-owned property for the purpose of oil exploration.

Marvin Rediger participated in a Central Prairie Honor Flight, joining 100 other World War II veterans on a trip to Washington, D.C., to see the World War II Memorial and other related sites.

City staff erected the much anticipated new playground tower in Memorial Park. The apparatus, valued at $50,000, is the primary phase of the park-improvement project directed by a committee of local volunteers.

The city council agreed to form a citizens committee to explore the development of a new fire station. The department has outgrown its present facility.

NOVEMBER

The city council accepted bids for rebuilding North Adams and First Street. Vogts-Parga was the low bidder for Adams at $877,853, and Lafarge Construc?tion was awarded First Street with a bid of $454,487.

The city council approved the oil lease with J. Fred Hambright Inc. at its Nov. 15 meeting, pending a final review by the city attorney.

The Hillsboro Evening Lions Club marked its 50th anniversary Nov. 24.

DECEMBER

The city received an early Christmas present with the report that the interest rate for the newly finalized bonds for two major street projects in 2012 came with a near-record low interest rate. The low rate will save the city about $171,000 over the life of the bonds.

As 2011 neared completion, the Hillsboro Community Foun?da?tion celebrated a year of growth that saw assets increase to more than $1 million during its five years of operation. In 2011, those assets generated about $28,000 in grants to help meet a variety of needs within the community.

An ad hoc group of business leaders, headed by economic development director Clint Seibel and Free Press publisher Joel Klaassen, were exploring ways to bring fiber-optic Internet service to Hillsboro.

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