Hillsboro receives offer for former hospital facility

This east half of the city-owned building served as the former home of Hillsboro Community Hospital before it moved to Industrial Road and U.S. 56 Highway this spring. The west half of the building serves Salem Home and will not be sold, city officials said.
This east half of the city-owned building served as the former home of Hillsboro Community Hospital before it moved to Industrial Road and U.S. 56 Highway this spring. The west half of the building serves Salem Home and will not be sold, city officials said.
The city of Hillsboro has received a corporate offer to purchase the east half of the city-owned building at the end of South Main Street that formerly housed Hills­boro Com­munity Hospital.

Even if the east half of the building is purchased, the west half of the facility would continue to be owned by the city and leased to Salem Home.

The offer to buy that part of the building for $400,000 was introduced and briefly discussed during the city council’s Nov. 21 meeting.

According to City Admin­­istrator Larry Paine, the 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 Rural Health Partners is currently the major stockholder in CAH Acquisition Co. LLC, owner of Hillsboro Com­munity Hospital.

The letter-writer’s identity is not clear from the letter itself, but the letter stated: “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, “There has been a recent change in U.S. statutes that allows veterans to be treated closer to their home and away from the VA hospitals. This particular organization is setting up a not-for-profit that would take care of the veterans.”

Paine said he and the mayor need to know more about the potential buyer before seriously considering a contract.

“To this point we’ve been trying to make some of the contacts on the not-for-profit side,” he added. “We’re not to the point of considering a contract.”

Paine said he has been in contact with Marion Regier, CEO of HCH, about setting up a meeting between the entities involved.

Asked by Councilor Brent Driggers if Paine was “absolutely positive” that the offer is asking for only part of the building, Paine replied, “I am absolutely not positive, but talking with Marion this afternoon, I’ve got a high degree of confidence that, yes, that’s their thinking. We’re not going to sell the entire building.”

He added, “To sell the entire building would put Salem at a disadvantage. We have a really good offer for this piece of property as part of the appraisal of the building, so at this point it’s a good deal.”

Paine admitted that before the proposal is voted upon, “there’s a lot of work that Delores and I have got to do—either going to Kansas City and talking to them, or have them come down here to talk to us.”

Asked about the potential for additional jobs, Paine said earlier this year he had seen a number indicating 50 jobs.

“I don’t know if that’s anything more than a grab number out of the air,” he said. “Between then and now, we would have expected a little bit more planning to figure out what they need. They are talking about 24/7 employment situations.”

Paine said if the purchase and project come to fruition, it would benefit veterans and the city as a whole.

“The nice part about it is, this a plan for taking care of people who have been taking care of us,” he said.

Other business

In other business, the council:

• voted 4-0 to authorize the mayor to sign the B Street Design contract with EBH & Associates for the replacement of the street that was damaged by the construction of Tabor College’s fine arts center.

Engineer Darin Neufeld said the contractor, Hett Construction of Marion, is about a week ahead of the project deadline.

• voted 4-0 to authorize the mayor to sign a contract with EBH & Associates to design the concrete walking trail that will be funded in large part by a Kansas Department of Transpor­tation grant. The cost of the design project is $57,100.

An 8-foot-wide lighted sidewalk will be built on the abandoned railroad bed, starting at Main Street and going east to Industrial Road, where it will turn north to Hillsboro Com­munity Hospital. The design contract will be paid for entirely with city funds.

• approved 4-0 a change order regarding the B Street reconstruction project. The order will be adding $5,101 for basic fabric that wasn’t in the original specifications; it also authorizes installation of the 8-foot sidewalk on the south side of the B Street project

• approved Ordinance 1284 that authorizes an increase in the local recycling fee submitted by McPherson County Solid Waste from $2.35 per month to $2.44 per month.