Dalke said she enjoys the challenge, but rarely is able to limit her list to 10 things. Her compilation of highlights for 2007 is no different. It includes 14 events, developments and decisions she feels have made?or will make?a significant difference for Hillsboro.
?It?s been an interesting year with a lot of important things that happened,? said Dalke, who was elected to her 13th term as mayor in April.
Dalke said her list is not necessarily ranked in order of importance.
1 Larry Paine hired as city administrator.
?Getting a new city administrator is definitely one of the Top 10 things that happened because we needed somebody who had a vision for the future,? Dalke said. ?In this case, we were fortunate enough to get someone who had worked in larger communities and has been very involved in planning for the future with economic development, strategic planning and those kind of things.?
Paine, whose previous assignment was with the city of Concordia, started his assignment in Hillsboro in late July.
?We were fortunate to get somebody of his caliber, and someone having a whole career in public office,? Dalke said.
2 Clint Seibel hired as economic development director by the Hillsboro Develop?ment Corp. and its new business-incubation initiative called Hillsboro Ventures Inc.
?That wasn?t a city decision,? Dalke said, ?but for the community that was very important because we were working without somebody in that role. I think we need somebody in that position to meet with prospects, talk to them and that kind of thing.?
Dalke said Seibel?s appointment is already bearing fruit, even if behind the scenes.
?Clint is working with several different clients at this time,? Dalke said. ?He has the know-how to put it together and to talk to them, and to give them the information they need regarding Hillsboro.
?He?s doing a very, very good job,? she added. ?We?re very pleased with what?s going on there.?
3 Two additions to the city?s health-care resources.
During 2007, Prairie View relocated its Marion offices to Hillsboro Heights, and Hillsboro Dental Care opened at Grand and Washington streets as a satellite office of McPherson Dental Care.
?Prairie View locating in Hillsboro is really important for us and our future because they?re a big asset to Marion County and a big asset to Hillsboro,? Dalke said. ?We look forward to when we can start working with them on a permanent facility.?
Likewise, the addition of another dental office meets a need as well.
?I think it?s important that Hillsboro has a strong medical presence,? Dalke said.
4 The Adams Street renovation project near Tabor College.
?It was only two blocks of street, water and sewer, but I think the important part of that is how it tied in with the Tabor (College) construction project,? Dalke said, referring to the new student townhouses the college completed in the fall.
?The Tabor construction project is extremely important, but the fact that we were able to use the Adams Street project to encourage some of the grant that they received, I think that was very, very important for our city,? Dalke said.
5 Going to bid, after numerous delays, on a new sewer lagoon system to meet state requirements.
?That?s been such a long project,? Dalke said of the 31⁄2 years that have passed since the city was notified the project would be approved for funding.
?The fact that the bids came in lower than the engineer?s estimate is definitely a good thing to happen because we?ve had some inflation during that time,? she added.
The lower bids won?t prevent a modest increase in sewer rates for residents and businesses, Dalke said, ?but it?s one of those necessities that we have to do.?
6 The sale of 40 acres of city-owned ground to Tabor College for the development of new athletic facilities in partnership with USD 410.
?We sold the 40 acres south of the football field to Tabor College for that project?which will, sooner or later, be done,? Dalke said, alluding to a lawsuit filed by a patron in response to the school district?s bond issue.
?I think the fact that we?ve gone forward with our part of that project has been important,? she said.
7 Formalizing a link with the Kansas Power Pool as a supplier of electricity.
?We were able to negotiate with the Kansas Power Pool and get them as our new electric source so we weren?t tied to Westar and whatever it is that?s going to happen with them and their rates,? Dalke said.
The KPP is a consortium of communities that combine their need for power in order to negotiate with suppliers more effectively.
?Although we?ll probably have to do some sort of a rate increase for our (local) electric customers, we will be able to keep it down compared to what it could have been,? Dalke said.
8 Fire at the city-owned AMPI building in April.
This event wasn?t a positive development for the city, Dalke said, but it was important nonetheless. The building continues to be used by a variety of entities. But one potential occupant changed its plans.
?The fire kind of took away the inspiration for the school to use that for their central offices,? Dalke said.
?We still have not done all the repairs to the building because of money,? she added. ?But that fire has had an impact on our community.?
9 The city-wide discussion in fall regarding the appropriate location for drinking establishments in Hillsboro.
The discussion was initiated by the Hillsboro Planning Commission as it considered zoning changes. The commission?s recommendation to the council to limit such enterprises to ?highway commercial? zones has been tabled for the time being, after the council indicated a preference for additional location options.
?The public let their views be known?both publicly at the Planning Commission meetings and also privately to council members,? Dalke said. ?They didn?t necessarily go to those (public) meetings, but there were a lot of varied views on that issue.
?Opening that dialogue was a good thing to have happened for the future of our community.?
10 Keeping the city mill level steady for yet another budget year.
?The mill levy for Hillsboro actually went down by about a half a mill this year,? Dalke said. ?We were able to hold the line on spending and still do a lot of the projects that we?re talking about (in this list).
?I think that?s really important because our taxes are at the point for businesses and residences that they are as high as I think this community can bear,? she said. ?I think it was really important that we were again able to keep the mill levy down.?
11 Hillsboro Business Park was platted and prepared for development.
The new commercial development is located immediately east of North Ash Street and south of U.S. Highway 56 on land purchased by the city when it acquired the AMPI building.
?We haven?t seen it yet, but the engineering and those kinds of things are done and will come before the city council at the next meeting,? Dalke said. ?The whole concept is out there and we will be ready for more growth out along the highway.?
12 The city council hired a professional research firm to evaluate Hillsboro?s retail market and opportunities for growth.
?Hiring Buxton Company will tell us who we are, what we are and what we can do to help our current retailers as well as retailers that we could be looking to get in the future,? Dalke said.
?I?m really excited about the information we have received so far.?
13 The newly formed Hills?boro Community Foundation achieved full funding for its initial $250,000 ?Impact Fund.?
?The people who actually went out and raised the money?I can?t congratulate them enough because of what that?s doing for our community,? Dalke said ?It shows we are willing to put our money where our mouth is, we are willing to support our community.?
HCF will use the Impact Fund as an endowment from which to award grants to support city-improvement initiatives.
?I think for our future it?s an extremely important move to make,? Dalke said. ?It didn?t all happen last year, but last year was when we actually did the Impact Fund and are actually going to be seeing the fruits of that now as the grants are being given.?
14 Improving Hillsboro?s storm-siren coverage.
?Because of the stormy weather that happened in the state (in 2007), we purchased and installed two additional storm sirens so the entire town of Hillsboro can now hear a siren in the event that a tragedy should ever happen here,? Dalke said.
?In one sense, it may not seem like a big thing to add two sirens?until the day we really need them, that is.?