Visitors representing a variety of concerns filled all chairs Tuesday at the Hillsboro City Council meeting.
Museum Board Chairman Mary Regier presented a request to move the Hillsboro Farmers’ Market from the Schaeffler House grounds for the coming season. Museum board members David Brown and Willie Ensz joined her.
“We are alive, well, and active with seven members,” Regier said. “One of our top priorities is to relocate the farmers’ market away from the Schaeffler House grounds this year.”
Regier said the move was necessary in light of the new grass planted at the historic site.
“It doesn’t make sense for us to be walking on newly planted grass there,” she said. “Plus, I have driven down Grand when we have farmer’s market there and parking is a big concern. When cars park on both sides of the street it is only one lane passable.”
Council member Byron McCarty asked Regier if her board had a recommendation for the council on a different venue for this year.
“We do,” she said. “We have long thought Memorial Park would be an ideal place to have the farmers’ market. There is the advantage of parking space, children have a safe place to play, there are two shelters with electricity, and there is lots of shade when it gets hot.”
Regier added that it was entirely the city council’s decision to change the market venue.
“We know this is ultimately your choice,” she said. “We certainly appreciate your reasoning on what would be best for us, as well as the Schaeffler House grounds.”
Mayor Delores Dalke said the council would consider the issue during a future work session.
Insurance broker Debbie Brevik from IMA also filled a visitor chair at the council meeting, attending to explain city insurance premium increases for the certification cycle beginning April 1.
“Given storm losses and the market hardening in the past year, we are seeing increases across the board,” Brevik said. “Everyone is looking at 5 to 10 percent increases, or more.”
Brevik highlighted a 10 percent increase in city property premiums, balanced by smaller fluctuations in other line items, which resulted in an overall 6 percent increase for city premiums.
City Administrator Larry Paine recommended approval for the new insurance contract, and the council agreed with a unanimous vote.
Two Tabor College students attended the meeting to fulfill requirements for a social work policy course, even though it was spring break. Joshua Elliott and Sam Hines listened and took notes as part of their field visit.
A large part of the council meeting was spent with the lights dimmed while Carl Myers, Director of Member Services for the Kansas Power Pool, showed slides and explained the mission, services, and long-range priorities of the energy group.
“We are not an investor utility,” Myers said. “We work for you, the members of our power pool, to provide lower cost energy.”
The City of Hillsboro is a member of the Kansas Power Pool, and Paine is a board member. The group is made up of 42 cities and is directed by a 5-member staff who promote cooperation and compromise in pooling resources.
“We help with shared expenses, generate energy reserves, access diverse energy sources, and maintain affordable costs,” Myers said.
Myers noted that 21 cities in the power pool opted to join in a 20-year contract purchase agreement to buy the Dogwood Power Plant in Cass City, Mo. He also said the 12 cities in the KPP that did not sign on to the purchase agreement, were planning to withdraw from pool membership in the next two years.
In other business:
- Dalke recommended and council members approved appointments to city boards: Doug Huxman, Peter Richert, and Kayla Barkman to Planning and Development Commission; and Jessie Nikkel to Board of Zoning and Appeals. Nikkel replaces Shawn Edwards who has served the maximum three full terms.
- Paine advised council members there would be a possible $4,000 bill coming for roof repair over the area rented by Southwest Spas at the former AMPI building.
- Paine said street construction on Adams Street would be delayed by recent rain.
- City Attorney Dan Baldwin advised the council that he was preparing a case for an April court date regarding the removal or repair of a dilapidated red brick building in the 100 block of East Main Street. A barricade has been placed behind the building to prevent accidents should the building collapse.
- Paine recommended a work session on Monday to discuss the development of a fire district. Members of a working group include Dwight Flaming, Menno Township; Jim Enns, Risley Township; and Ben Steketee, Hillsboro Fire Chief. Paine requested all council members plan to attend the work session.
The next scheduled city council meeting is set for April 3.