2007: The Year in Review



An ongoing agenda for Hillsboro city government in 2007 was the ?former AMPI property? it acquired several years ago from Dairy Farmers of America. An April 25 fire in the main building left officials scrambling to fund repairs and insurance and ultimately changed plans for its use by the school district.

Meanwhile, the city created a new opportunity for economic expansion by platting Hillsboro Business Park in the vacated land north of the main entrance of the building.

Those and other local highlights are part of the following timetable of events.


Tabor College student Matt Vogt of Tampa completed his semester-long internship with the Hillsboro Police Department. Vogt graduated with a degree in social sciences/criminal justice. Vogt had been a reserve officer for 21⁄2 years with the department.

The Hillsboro City Council adopted a new name for the city-owned property known as ?the former AMPI building.? At the suggestion of Councilor Len Coryea, the official name is ?Hillsboro Business Develop?ment Complex.?

The City of Hillsboro accepted ownership of 10 developed lots in the Willow Glen housing development on the city?s south edge. Development owner Eldred Kunkel, San Jose, Calif., offered the lots to the city to ease his personal tax situation.

Hillsboro dodged the first ?major winter storm? forecast for year. Instead, the area received about 2 inches of snow and single-digit temperatures.

The city council questioned the fiscal impact of the county?s plan to build a $15 million corrections center. Members expressed concern increasing property and sales taxes to fund the project.

Following an executive session, the city council voted Jan. 24 to terminate the contract of City Administrator Steve Garrett, who started his employment in 2000.


Tim McCarty, former Tabor College football coach now on staff with Ron Prince at Kansas State, was the guest speaker at the annual Chamber of Com?merce dinner.

Pete Richert, a Hillsboro native and Tabor College student, was wounded by a roadside bomb in Iraq while serving with the National Guard. One soldier was killed in the attack.


Hillsboro was named a ?Tree City USA? for the 12th year by the National Arbor Day Founda?tion.

USD 410 expressed interest in locating its new transportation center and central offices in the city-owned Hillsboro Busi?ness Development Complex. The district would use about one-third of the building that was once a milk-processing plant.

Construction began on rebuilding the 300 and 400 blocks of Adam Street along the Tabor College campus. The college plans to build new student townhouses along the street.

Bob Watson, representing Emprise Bank, presented an alternate plan for a new drive-through at the bank?s Main and Grand location. The bank?s first plan was turned down last fall.

The city council passed a resolution formalizing the city?s participation in the Kansas Power Pool as a supplier of electricity once its contract with Westar Energy expires later this year.

Morgan Marler, who oversees water production at the Hills?boro water-treatment plant, was awarded the 2006 Water Plant Supervisor of the Year Award by the Kansas Rural Water Asso?ciation. Marler has been with the water department for nine years.

Karly Winter began working March 26 as director of the Hillsboro Senior Center.


Challenger Shane Marler defeated incumbent Matt Hiebert in the race for an East Ward city council seat, 110-83. In unchallenged races, Delores Dalke was re-elected mayor for a 13th term while Robert Watson was elected to the West Ward council seat vacated by Len Coryea. In the USD 410 election, uncontested incumbents Debra Geis, Dale Klassen, Mark Rooker and Rod Koons were re-elected.

Members of the city council expressed concern about the numerous tasks that still need to be accomplished in and around the aquatic center to get it ready for its Memorial Day opening.

Todd Lehman, local youth pastor, completed his goal of running one marathon a month for more than a year when he finished the Boston Marathon. Lehman ran 13 marathons in 13 months, competing in eight states.

Initial estimates to repair the roof of the the city-owned former AMPI building and city hall came in at more than $135,000. The council deferred action.

Fire caused limited damage to a portion of the AMPI building April 25. Firefighters had trouble finding the source of the fire, which was on the north end of the structure. The cause was not determined immediately.


Representatives from the Marion County Fair Board met with the city council to discuss options for placing the carnival now that Memorial Field is not available for use. Several options were discussed, but no solution was reached.

Judy Helmer and Marci Cain, a mother-daughter team, were hired to manage the aquatic center this summer.

The city council approved the revised plan for a new drive-through at Emprise Bank. The plan assumes the removal of the building situated between Emprise and Prudent Tours, but would have customer traffic entering from the opposite direction as was originally proposed.

Larry Paine was hired as city administrator for Hillsboro. Paine, 60, held a similar position in Concordia since February 2003. He will officially begin in Hillsboro July 23.

A company that specializes in restoring buildings following a fire estimated it would cost the city of Hillsboro around $440,000 to repair the damage at the former AMPI building. The building was not insured at the time of the fire.

The Impact Fund established by the Hillsboro Community Foundation passed $200,000 in contributions and pledges. The goal is receive $250,000 by the end of the calendar year.

New estimates from a different company lowered the projected cost to fix fire damage at the AMPI building to $190,000. The city council expected at least one more bid to come in.


Hillsboro Mennonite Breth?ren Church moved into its new facility June 3. The congregation?s former downtown facility burned in March 2004. The new building is located in the Prairie Pointe development on the east edge of town.

The latest company to bid on repairs to the AMPI building came in at $76,000. The council decided at a later meeting to review all four bids it has received to ensure that the job was equally described to all interested parties.


Rep. Jerry Moran was the special guest at this year?s Fourth of July Eve gathering hosted by Hillsboro Museums on the grounds of the historic Schaeffler House. Abraham Lincoln (Don Dahl) presented the Gettysburg Address and Uncle Sam (Dale Honeck) led a patriotic parade for kids.


Several Hillsboro residents attended the first council meeting of the month to express concern about drainage issues in their residential area. The problems arose due to several heavy rainfalls.


Rain put a damper on the annual Arts & Crafts Fair in Hillsboro and Art in the Park in Marion. Christy Wulf, director of the Hillsboro fair, estimated the crowd was about half the size of the 50,000 who usually attend.

After listening to input during a public hearing, the Hills?boro Planning & Zoning Com???mission agreed to recommend to the city council a zoning proposal that would limit the location of restaurants that want to serve alcoholic drinks to ?highway commercial? zones. Presently, that would be Hills?boro Heights and Hillsboro Busi?ness Park.


The city council considered preliminary ideas by its engineer for addressing draining issues in three problem areas around town.

The council deferred action Oct. 16 on the recommendation from the Planning & Zoning Commission regarding the location of restaurants that want to serve alcohol.

Mayor Delores Dalke announced the sale of the first lot in the newly platted Hillsboro Business Park. Albert Reimer, veteran local entrepreneur, purchased the lot to locate a recreational-vehicle business.


The city council approved at its Nov. 6 meeting a local license allowing La Cabana restaurant at 117 S. Main to operate as a drinking establishment. The restaurant had obtained a state license for that purpose. Because the council had not yet acted on zoning regulations defining acceptable locations for a drinking establishment, La Cabana will be grandfathered in with future zoning decisions.

Ben Steketee was named city building inspector and code-enforcement officer for Hillsboro, succeeding Martin Rhodes. Steketee will continue to serve as fire chief.


The city council agreed to hire Buxton, a Texas firm, to help the city recruit new retail businesses and strengthen existing ones. The one-year contract will cost $50,000. City Admini?strator Larry Paine said the expense should come back to the city as sales tax revenue if the project is at all successful.

The city council agreed to review its rates and funding strategies regarding its four utilities. The decision came following an initial report about the need to increase electrical rates.

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