Road to progress sometimes bumpy for Hillsboro

Following the completion of the North Ash Street replacement project in August, Hills?boro residents could enjoy a smooth path into town once again. In the meantime, city leaders still encountered its share of bumpy spots on the path to continued progress.


The Hillsboro Police Depart?ment is still waiting on forensic evidence being reviewed by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation regarding five open rape cases, one of which dates back to 2006.

A fire in the early hours of Jan. 7 severely damaged a home a 602 S. Lincoln. The owners and residents, Timothy and Asia Frye and their 18-month-old daughter escaped without injury.

Two investigators with the Kansas State Fire Marshal?s Office were unable to determine the cause of an early morning fire Jan. 27 in a shed at 309 S. Cedar.


A two-vehicle accident Feb. 4 on U.S. Highway 56 and Santa Fe Street near Hillsboro ended up a being sticky mess for emergency responders. One of the vehicles was hauling 1,000 gallons of molasses, which spilled onto the highway.

Nine non-profit groups received Impact Fund grants through the Hills?boro Com?munity Foundation: Big Brothers Big Sisters of Marion County ($750), Hillsboro High School Chess Guild ($500), Communities in Schools of Marion County ($750), Hillsboro Police Department D.A.R.E program (500), Hillsboro Elemen?tary School?s after-school program ($750), Hillsboro Public Library ($500), Hillsboro Senior Center ($2,500), Tabor College Learning in Retirement ($500) and Main Street Ministries ($2,250).

The city council will review the arguments that led to its decision last March to join with other cities in a class-action lawsuit against the makers of atrazine, a commonly used agriculture herbicide in the U.S.

Safety concerns led the city to remove two pieces of play equipment from Memorial Park. One was a wooden climbing-and-sliding apparatus and the other a cactus-like climbing apparatus.

Around 60 crowded into the east meeting room of Hillsboro?s city hall on a Saturday morning to hear reports from Rep. Bob Brookens and Sen. Jim Barnett about the state?s fiscal situation.


Nearly 40 community leaders in business, education and city government gathered for a day-long conversation about the economic development of Hillsboro. Billed as the Hillsboro Economic Develop?ment Strategy Summit, participants heard presentations on four topics: entrepreneurship, wealth retention, youth attraction and community leadership.

The city council approved the purchase of a $13,565 package of equipment and resources that should enable the city to provide emergency power to the Scout House in Memorial Park in case of a tornado or high winds.

City council members expressed interest in providing training for volunteers serving on city boards, but asked for more time to consider the form and expense of it. City Administrator Larry Paine had proposed hiring a professional consultant to lead a seminar on boardsmanship, perhaps on a Saturday.

Mayor Delores Dalke, active in Hillsboro city government for more than 25 years, said mailing back the 2010 Census questionnaire in a timely manner will make a difference for every resident in the county, not just in Hillsboro.


The city council voted 3-1 at April 6 to hire a professional consultant to lead a training seminar for volunteer members of city boards. Councilor Byron McCarty voted against the proposal, saying he liked the idea of a training session but thought the $3,500 price tag was too high.

The city council voted to allow the Hillsboro Museums Board to use city-managed trust funds to be have an architectural plan developed that could lead to the reconstruction of the 1879 Heinrich Bartel House, currently in a state or disrepair on a farm north of Hillsboro. It is the only stone Polish/Eastern European-style house still in existence ?that we know of,? according to Stan Harder, museums director.


Hillsboro City Administra?tor Larry Paine expressed hope that wear and tear on Main Street caused by heavy grain trucks will be minimized during the upcoming wheat harvest season while work continues on the North Ash Street renovation. All traffic will be routed around two-plus blocks of North Ash, from First Street north, while construction continues.

After more than 11 years at Main Street Ministries in Hills?boro, Lillian Bookless, facility director, said it?s time for her to step aside and make room for all the good changes coming in the operation of the ministry.

The city council approved two improvement projects for the Hillsboro airport. One is the addition of a pilot-controlled runway lighting system that would allow the city to keep the lights turned off until activated by an approaching pilot. The other is an airport credit-card fuel-dispensing system.

Marles Preheim, Hillsboro High School instructor from the 1960s, shared his memories of days gone by during the annual HHS All-School Reunion on Saturday of the Memorial Day weekend.

The Hillsboro Fire Depart?ment is championing a cooperative arrangement that should improve response time for primary rescue services in Marion County. The plan, being developed in partnership with Marion County Emergency Medical Services, would authorize the fire departments from Hillsboro, Marion, Peabody and Florence to be ?first responders? for rescue calls beyond their designated fire-protection areas.

Water-treatment plant staff received word from the Kansas Depart?ment of Health and Environ?ment that a year?s worth of testing indicates the city has met the state?s most stringent standard for levels of trihalo?methanes and halo?acetic acids, which are cancer-causing substances.


The city council voted 3-1 to authorize Fire Chief Ben Steketee to sign a contract that would make his department a primary rescue responder for Marion County. As the meeting was about to adjourn, Councilor Byron McCarty voiced his support for the proposed contract between HFD and Marion County Emergency Medical Services, calling it ?a matter of public safety.?

The council approved changes for the North Ash Street project recommended last month by a federal project inspector. The city will replace all the old concrete rather than keep some old concrete in tact and cover it with a 3-inch asphalt overlay, as was originally planned. The inspector said the area with the overlay likely would not last seven years. The change will cost the city about $125,000.

On the premise of getting additional bids, the city council delayed action at its July 20 meeting on making roof repairs at the city-owned former AMPI?building. City Admini?strator Larry Paine reported the roof is leaking in two places within the building that have been leased to Golden Heritage Foods for the storage of honey drums.


In an effort to avoid a larger mill-levy increase, City Admini?strator Larry Paine highlighted a preliminary budget for 2011 that would eliminate the two paid staff positions with Hills?boro Museums and freeze city salaries for the second straight year. Even with those provisions, the 2011 budget includes a property-tax increase, ending a streak of six straight years with a lower mill levy.

With the cutting of a ceremonial ribbon by Mayor Delores Dalke, the newly reconstructed section of North Ash Street in Hillsboro was opened to traffic Aug. 13. The three-block project, funded primarily with an award of $412,500 in stimulus funds through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, began May 11.

Hillsboro?s missing political signs resurfaced, but it?s still a mystery as to how or who took them. More than 350 political signs were dropped during the night a mere 10 feet from the front door of Police Chief Dan Kinning?s home in Hillsboro. The signs were stolen the night of the Aug. 3 primary election.

The city of Hillsboro has started a pilot test using cutting-edge technology to inject ozone into the sewer line in an effort to eliminate odors from its new waste???water treatment ponds east of town. Ozone kills odor-causing anaerobic bacteria.

The city council likely set at least a portion of the city-owned AMPI building on a path to demolition when it decided at its Aug. 17 meeting that it is too costly to repair sections of the roof that are now leaking.


At the end of an otherwise routine city council meeting, Councilor Shelby Dirks said in a prepared statement that he was ?very disappointed? that the council approved a funding agreement at its Aug. 17 meeting that would transfer funds from the electricity utility to subsidize the salary of the city?s full-time economic director. Dirks was not able to attend the Aug. 17 meeting.

Except for a some heat-related challenges, officials report the 41st annual Arts & Crafts Fair was a good one for most exhibitors. Law enforcement estimated the total crowd at close to 50,000 people, based on the parking situation at designated lots and elsewhere around the downtown area.

The city council opted at its Sept. 21 meeting to wait until after the first of the year to decide what approach to take for funding the city?s economic-development staff position.


Two years after they were discovered by lake officials, zebra mussels are now causing problems at Marion Reservoir. The Hillsboro City Council authorized water-treatment plant operator Morgan Marler to solicit bids from engineering firms for developing a strategy to stop the growing population of zebra mussels from invading the reservoir pump station.


Hillsboro Community Foun?da?tion hosted a community-wide appreciation dinner Nov. 9 to celebrate a $350,000 bequest from the Marga Ebel estate and a matching-fund grant of up to $300,000 from the Kansas Health Founda?tion. HCF also announced the hiring of Kathy Decker as its first part-time executive director.

Larry Paine was named the recipient of the Buford M. Watson Jr. Award for Excellence in Public Manage?ment. It is the highest honor bestowed by the Kansas City/County Management Asso?ciation.

The Hillsboro Free Press released a reprint of Raymond F. Wiebe?s centennial history book, ?Hillsboro, Kansas: The City on the Prairie.? The first printing sold out within 21?2 years of its initial release in 1985.

The City of Hillsboro Play?ground Committee began soliciting funds to acquire a ?mega-tower system? play apparatus for Memorial Park. It will take $45,000 to pay for it, but the committee has set a fundraising goal of $75,000 for the maintenance of the new apparatus and the possible purchase of additional playground items.


Hillsboro city leaders entertained questions from USD 410 and county leaders in relation to the tax-financing district it approved two years ago to develop Hillsboro Business Park as a home for the new Midway Motors facility. Although the city sent out public notices of the action at the time, leaders said they were not aware that the opportunity to protest the creation of the TIF district had passed within weeks after it was created.

City Administrator Larry Paine was presented his Kansas City/County Management Association award Dec. 16 during a reception at Hillsboro?s city hall. Some 16 administrators from other Kansas cities were on hand for the presentation.

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