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Hillsboro to seek $1.1 million for algae in water

Staff writer

Hillsboro hopes to make water plant improvements to provide more effective and less expensive treatment to remove high manganese levels caused by blue-green algae in Marion Reservoir water.

City council members voted Tuesday to apply for a $1.1 million Kansas Public Water Supply Loan to pay for the improvements. The loan, if the city is selected, is 100% forgivable.

Michael Younger, engineer with EBH Engineering, said equipment purchased with the money would give water plant operators more options.

“I think this is a great opportunity,” mayor Lou Thurston said.

The plan also could save money.

“If everything goes as it’s supposed to, it should theoretically reduce the cost of the chemicals,” city administrator Matt Stiles said.

Thurston expressed frustration about algae infestations of the reservoir.

“This blue-green algae issue is not getting better. It’s just gotten worse and worse and worse,” Thurston said.

Thurston said algae blooms at the reservoir used to last only a few weeks but now are lasting most of the summer.

Stiles said that although water authorities were trying to encourage farmers to use less fertilizer, which contributes to formation of blue-green algae, he couldn’t say how effective that effort has been.

“We found out that if we want clean water, it’s up to us to find out how to get it,” Thurston said.

Derelict properties

A month after council members discussed two Hillsboro properties in unsafe condition, one owner has made enough improvements to make the property safe. The other has not.

The owner of a mobile home at 405 S. Birch St. has made enough improvements that the home no longer is a dangerous structure, Stiles said, but the city’s code inspector still considers the property a blight to surrounding properties.

“It’s up to the council whether you want to take action on it being a blight,” Stiles said. “It does meet the requirements for safety.”

Council members took no action.

A house at 311 N. Lincoln St. was found to remain dangerous and unfit for occupancy.

Stiles said at least one window was broken, cracks were visible in the foundation, exterior walls allowed weather and wildlife to enter, and the front porch was not sound to walk on.

A walking surface in front of the house is unsafe, the roof is damaged by deterioration and neglect, both the house and garage are unsecured, and the property is abandoned, he said.

Stiles said the property owner might be dead, but a son might still be in the community.

Council members voted to give the homeowner 45 days to start making repairs. After that, the city could repair or demolish the property.

Council members decided last month not to get involved with a third property because it is part of a bankruptcy.

Work on Adams St.

Council members voted to apply for a Kansas Department of Transportation grant for work on Adams St. from B St. to 1st St. The street work is estimated to cost $780,900.

The city hopes to pay 25% of the cost of the work, or $195,225, if KDOT will select Hillsboro’s application and pay the rest.

Child care center

Stiles told council members an anonymous donation of $90,000 had been made to kick off public fundraising for matching funds in a $600,000 Community Development Block Grant the city hopes to use for a community child care center.

Other matters

Council members voted to increase the city’s tax levy by 4.925% and approve its 2023 budget with a 1.005% increased tax rate.

Last modified Sept. 8, 2022

 

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