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Hillsboro City Council discusses need for new fire station

Staff writer

It is a subject that has come up several times before at Hillsboro City Council meetings — the need for a new fire station in Hillsboro. However, at the council meeting Tuesday, Mayor Delores Dalke said nothing much has come of the discussions in the past.

“We have discussed this for so long,” she said. “But until we get a committee to work on this, nothing is ever going to happen.”

City Administrator Larry Paine said he would like to see a committee appointed to focus on what direction to go with plans for a new Hillsboro fire station.

“We need to develop a plan, a structure not unlike that of the former jail committee or the playground committee that raised a godly sum of money for playground equipment,” he said.

Council member Bob Watson admitted a bit of confusion and asked why a committee would be formed to raise money when size and needs of a station had not yet been determined.

“It seems an odd way to go about financing a fire station, with civic groups and fundraisers from a committee,” he said.

Fire Chief Ben Steketee said it would be wise to include someone from the townships, which are working to form a new fire district. They could provide input on size needs and resolve some questions about finance.

“We can’t just have a bake sale,” he said. “That would be a lot of cookies!”

Paine indicated his preference for a city-orientated committee was based on a need to get information established before extending talk to the township boards.

“We need to discuss some things among ourselves so we know what we think we need to get this going,” he said. “Then we can meet with a larger group, including township representation, and change what we think, if need be.”

Typically, the mayor is in charge of appointing committee members.

“We need to get this ball rolling,” council member Byron McCarty said. “I’d like to see the mayor make her appointments, but I highly recommend we at least appoint Ben (Steketee) to the committee.”

Franchise agreement extended

The council approved Paine’s recommendation to extend the Westar franchise agreement for another year. The issue was tabled at a previous meeting as members considered the impact of adding the industrial park to the city electrical system. If the new Hillsboro hospital were built there in the next 12 months, franchise fees might change.

“This gives us one more year to get our things together,” Dalke said.

Police car bids reopened

Police car bids were reopened because Police Chief Dan Kinning received new information about a possible Ford option, Paine said.

“The bid process did not include Ford as they did not make a 2012 model,” he said. “But Terry Hagen presented information on a 2013 model now available.”

The new bid process will close at the end of this week.

In other business:

  • City Judge Bryson E. Mills resigned by letter, due to health reasons. He arranged for a replacement, Randall Pankratz of Newton, to take over his duties and complete the current term.
  • The oil and gas lease issue was again tabled, set for discussion in two weeks. Paine said there was work to be done on addendums.
  • The La Cabana liquor license renewal was unanimously approved on recommendation of Paine who said all applications were complete and Kinning had given the go ahead.
  • Dalke made no new board appointments. She said the city had been challenged as to how those appointments have been made in the past. She planned to look up original ordinances regarding how specific boards were formed.
  • Paine asked that council members attend a 5 p.m. meeting following council adjournment to obtain information about the possibility of faster Internet service for Hillsboro. The city is not looking at being a provider, just investigating some faster servers.

The next meeting is scheduled for 4 p.m. Nov. 1.

Last modified Oct. 20, 2011

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