Hillsboro welcomes new director to CKEC

The City of Hillsboro met on Tuesday, July 11 since their regularly scheduled meeting the week before fell on a holiday. The city has been a partner with Tabor on the Central Kansas Entrepreneurship Center (CKEC) since July 2022. That partnership is governed under a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which must be renewed on an annual basis.

Dr. David Janzen, President of Tabor College spoke with the council and gave an update on the CKEC.

“We’ve been at this one year, it was right about a year ago that we signed a memorandum of understanding with the city. That was a key part of starting the Central Kansas Entrepreneurship Center at Tabor College. And we did a fair amount of setup and getting started,” he said.

He went on to announce that a new director, Jeremy Ensey, formerly of St Luke Hospital had been hired.

“So he is going to be a business faculty. He’ll split his time, 50% roughly between those two things, being academic and teaching classes and advising students on campus, and then running the Central Campus Entrepreneurship Center,” said Janzen. “We’re super excited to have Jeremy coming on, and we think it’s gonna be a great combination. And the support of the city is a key for how we’re able to bring him on through the memorandum understanding.

Janzen gave more updates about the center and then handed it over to Ensey to introduce himself and answer any questions.

Ensey gave some background about himself and explained that he has strong family roots in Marion County.

“We’re very excited, Jeremy, to have you on board. Partnership. That’s really what this is—the partnership with Tabor College and the City of Hillsboro. Our community has a strong, strong history of entrepreneurs and we see this as taking something that we know has worked well for this area and enhancing and elevating it,” said Mayor Lou Thurston. “So this is one of the reasons why I’m excited about Jeremy, having been a small business owner in the county that he gets it from that perspective. And maybe have more of a perspective from the academic side. And I think that will probably complement the knowledge and experience and perspective that we have.”

City Administrator Matt Stiles explained that the funds for the MOU come from the Industrial Fund, which supports Economic Development in the city.

He said, “We levy 1 mill, approximately $21,000 for the Industrial Fund and supplement an additional $35,000 per year from the electric department. The fund also pays for a portion of the community engagement coordinator position, for the contractual agreement with ODI and other minor economic development activities. There should be sufficient funds to handle the additional $5,000 for this year within the budget. For 2024 we will need to budget more resources in the Industrial Fund than the previous year.”

The board approved the proposed MOU with Tabor College for the continuation of the Central Kansas Entrepreneurship Center.

In other business, the council:

  •  adopted Ordinance 1373, granting a conditional use permit for 211 S Elm (formerly Trinity Church) for the use of the building as a daycare facility.
  •  approved the purchase of a 2023 Massey Ferguson 180EH (utility tractor) from LDI at a cost of $31,440 with local option sales tax funds.
  •  learned from Stiles that at the regular June Planning Commission meeting, the commission reviewed an initial application for the AH Alternative Construction Housing District overlay. The applicant would be building a home using modified shipping containers on 3rd Street, next to the home currently there. As part of the process, the Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on July 27 with all the neighbors within 200 feet being notified. The Planning Commission will re-evaluate the plans, hold the hearing and make a recommendation. The council would hear that recommendation at the Aug. 8 meeting.
  •  learned that KDHE has been closely monitoring Marion Reservoir for algal toxins. Around the July 4th holiday, there were extremely high levels of toxins detected in the reservoir. The sampling from the plant indicated that the treatment process successfully removed all the toxins. However, the underlying problem still exists in the reservoir quality.
  •  heard from Stiles that the County Commissioners reached out for support in addressing the proposed contract for Evergy to purchase 19% of the reservoir’s water capacity for cooling of the Wolf Creek Nuclear plant. The city will contact the WRAPS director to see what support they can lend. The city re-upped its contract in 2021 at the same capacity as the previous contract, about double what is used annually. Peabody has renewed their contract and Marion is in the process of renewing their contract. Combined, the three cities in Marion County draw about 19% of the reservoir’s capacity. Marion Reservoir is the least-used reservoir in the state and the water is controlled by the KWO. Having more turnover in the reservoir may actually help with the water quality by reducing sediment and algae buildup.

The next city council meeting will by July 25.

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