Many of you may have been following the saga of the new Hillsboro Ambulance Station in the papers. Today, I am happy to let you know that the Marion County Commissioners voted 5-0 to accept the offer that the City of Hillsboro had given them to locate the new ambulance station on North Ash Street. We are appreciative and excited for the new station to be located in that place.
Some of you may be wondering why the City of Hillsboro has been so adamant about pursuing this location and why we would be spending Hillsboro taxpayers’ money on a “county” service. There are several reasons why;
The citizens of Hillsboro need ambulance service located within our city limits. Our population density represents the largest single grouping of Marion County citizens.
We have two senior care facilities, a four-year college, our consolidated school district and a large manufacturing and business community that require emergency medical services.
We need it in the right location. The North Ash Street location has been studied and found to be the most efficient location for service within the city limits but also has access to the safest ingress and egress from US Highway 56 at Ash Street for service to the surrounding county residents.
It is the right way for county and city government to cooperate and collaborate to achieve the best solution for ALL Marion County citizens.
At some point in the next four years, after we have repaid some of our outstanding long-term debt, we will be looking to build a new Emergency Services Center, housing our fire and police departments in one, central location. Currently we have our fire equipment located in two separate locations, and our police department is located in a crumbling, worn-out AMPI building. It is a problem that needs to be addressed, but we need to do it in a financially prudent way.
Having the county’s EMS station located near our Emergency Services Center makes sense, and will allow our respective emergency personnel to continue to work closely and collaborate together as we have done for the last several decades. Having it located there is not only right for serving the citizens, it also sends a strong and positive message for those coming into Hillsboro that we care about our emergency services and have made the right investments in infrastructure to insure the safety and well-being of the citizens and visitors to Hillsboro.
Year to Remember / Year to Forget
2020 has certainly been a year to remember and one most of us would like to forget. It certainly challenged me in ways I never expected. That said, now that we have the election behind us and a new year on the calendar, looking back, I am proud of the way that this community came together to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Instead of taking a financial hit, as we were told to expect a 20-30% reduction in city revenue back in March/April of last year, our city revenue grew. We saw an actually growth in sales tax receipts of 10% in 2020 over 2019. What this means is that more of you shopped locally and supported our community through your spending. I applaud every one of you, especially our local businesses, for adapting your habits to meet the needs of our community. That is certainly one of the big things that makes Hillsboro a great place to live!
I know that not everyone agreed on how best to fight the pandemic, and our closing the swimming pool and passing a mask ordinance were controversial actions. I appreciated the input we received. Even if we didn’t always agree, we went about it civilly, and I believe our community is stronger as a result.
2021 will be a year of progress for the City of Hillsboro, and I am looking forward to seeing our community plaza begin to take shape, our hike/bike trail to actually begin construction and the improvements to the US Highway 56 intersection at Industrial Road completed. We also heard from Countryside Feed regarding their $8 million expansion plans for their operations in Hillsboro.
As I wrap up this month’s edition of City Watch, I just want to say thank you to everyone in our community for your support. These past three years as your mayor have been challenging but also fulfilling, and I have enjoyed serving this great community. This is all leading up to say that I plan to put my name back on the ballot for this year and hope you will continue to support the progress we are making, “Growing Hillsboro Together!”