Hospital launch highlights year of private construction

After seven years of delays, construction began in mid-April on the $11.4 million home for Hillsboro Community Hospital. By year’s end the building was fully enclosed.After a year when city government initiated several significant infrastructure projects, Hills­boro residents may remember 2016 as the year the private sector got noticeably involved.

Several significant construction projects, representing about $32 million in private initiatives, were launched.

Rising from the ground as the year progressed were a new hospital, a pharmacy, an office headquarters, a center for the fine arts and the completion of six twins homes to address the city’s affordable housing needs.

In the meantime, city government and local organizations and businesses moved ahead with less visible, but still important, accomplishments.

January

Prodded by a law passed in 2015 by the Kansas Legis­lature, the council spent most of its Jan. 5 meeting reviewing required and optional changes in the way it structures and elects city-government leadership. The council eventually passed Charter Ordi­nance 19, which describes the state-mandated transition from spring elections to fall elections.

Six new twin homes to accommodate 12 families will open by late summer in Hillsboro, according to Mark Cox, owner of Vintage Con­struction LLC, general contractor and partners. A twin home is one-half of a house that can be owned by the renter, unlike a duplex that typically is a rental property only.

Hillsboro Community Found­a­tion board members presented grant checks totaling a record $18,300 Jan. 26 to 10 area organ­izations and programs serving Marion County children and families. The presentation occur­red during halftime of the high school boys’ basketball game.

February

Preferring to protect a prime retail location, the council turned down a request from Grace Com­munity Fellow­ship to purchase the Heart­land Foods building in Hillsboro Heights as a church facility.

The turnout was small, but those who came to the annual Chamber of Com­merce legislative coffee in Hillsboro affirmed Rep. Don Schroe­der for aligning himself with those who question the Legislature’s budgeting process, its perspective on public education and the practice of passing state costs on to local government.

March

The coun­cil passed a zoning-change ordinance during its March 15 meeting that cleared the way for the construction of an office building for MB Foundation at the corner of D and Wash­ington streets, formerly occupied for many years by an abandoned convenient store with environmental issues.

April

The coun­cil took action to expedite aerial spraying for local wheat farmers. The 3-0 vote reaffirmed the original version of Ordinance 1269 passed in 2014 that allowed a Kinsley spraying company to use the city’s airport under the auspices of Ag Ser­vice Inc.

Earth-movers were on site as construction began in mid-April on the $11.4 million new facility for Hills­­boro Community Hos­pital. JE Dunn Construction is the contractor.

Randy Frank, Hillsboro, was elected Kansas 4th Dis­trict American Legion commander April 26 during the annual Kansas 4th District convention in Emporia. The 4th District includes more than 3,000 veterans supporting 45 American Legion Posts in 14 Kansas counties.

Verlenia “Lena” Hall, Hills­boro Chamber of Com­merce office manager, was recognized for her volunteer work with the Army National Guard. Hall received a leadership award April 23 in Manhattan for being one of the top family-readiness leaders in Kansas.

May

Meeting as the Public Building Commission, the council approved a bid of $48,737 during from a Man­hattan company to remove the asbestos in the city-owned building currently used by Hillsboro Com­munity Hospital.

June

The coun­cil approved a land purchase option June 22 that could lead to the establishment of a not-for-profit medical clinic that would treat low-income clients in Marion County. Hillsboro physician Michael Reeh is spearheading the project. He will be submitting an application for a federal grant that targets underserved medical customers.

July

The coun­cil accepted a bid of $27,386 during its July 5 meeting to pursue needed repairs to the Scout House in Memorial Park. City Admin­i­strator Larry Paine said the rails and deck on the east side of the building were failing and needed to be replaced.

The coun­cil reviewed a 2017 budget proposal that would increase local property-tax levy by more than 5 mills. The council agreed after an initial budget review that a mill levy increase would be necessary to ensure that sufficient funds will be available for utility maintenance needs.

MB Foundation broke ground July 19 for its new $2 million, two-story headquarters at D and Washington streets. Conco Construction of Wichita is the contractor.

August

City Admini­strator Larry Paine introduced an estimated $4.3 million water department project targeted for 2018. The project could include waterline replacement at eight locations, plus the required taps for each customer. It also could includes installation of automatic meter readers. Paine said the city is looking into a “significant” grant/loan combination through USDA Rural Devel­op­ment to help fund it.

Seeking to soften the cumulative impact of county and city mill-levy increases for local taxpayers, the council approved a 3-mill increase for the 2017 budget rather than the 5-mill increase initially proposed.

September

Hillsboro firefighters, police officers and EMS personnel participated in a tribute on the 15th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attack in New York City. Rusty Moss, training officer with the Hillsboro Fire Depart­ment and Emer­gency Medi­cal Services, came up with the idea of parking emergency vehicles along the 100 block of East Grand Avenue..

People between the ages of 18 and 39 who are interested in connecting with their peers and their community were invited to consider a new organization intended just for them. The Hillsboro Young Profes­sionals kickoff event was Sept. 29 at Bluejay Lanes.

Hillsboro’s downtown business district was filled with vendors, browsers and shoppers for the 47th annual Hillsboro Arts & Crafts Fair. The day began in a blanket of fog, but by mid-morning it turned into a bright, clear and sunny day that drew another large crowd. Police Chief Dan Kinning estimated the event brought around 35,000 people to town.

By finishing among the top two in their age category at the Kansas State Fair, two Hillsboro youth qualified for the National Pedal Pull Championships at the Corn Palace in Mitchell, S.D., Sept. 24. Kyle Epp, 4-year-old son of David and Jennifer Epp, and Charlotte Silhan, 4-year-old daughter of Fred and Staci Silhan, earned the right to compete at Hutchin­son. Kyle went on to earn the third-place trophy in his age category at nationals.

The coun­cil took initial steps during its Sept. 20 meeting toward an $800,000 street reconstruction project on the north side of town for 2017. The target area would include the 200 and 300 blocks of North Washington, North Lincoln, North Jeffer­son and the 100, 200 and 300 blocks of East Second Street.

November

The coun­cil approved a new utility-cutoff policy during a Nov. 22 special meeting. Policy 88 addresses electric customers who are delinquent in their payments, but have health issues that require continuation of electric service.

December

Representatives from Superior Fiber Communi­ca­­tions met with the city council to talk about their intention to bring high-speed fiber Internet to the Hills­boro. If funding is secured, the roll-out could begin in April.

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