New council member has deep local connections

News editor

Hillsboro City Council appointed a new member immediately after accepting Marlene Fast’s resignation Tuesday. Fast resigned because she won’t be available for council meetings.

Mayor Delores Dalke appointed David Loewen to the position. He was approved unanimously.

Loewen grew up in Hillsboro and graduated from Tabor College. He spent time in California and Oklahoma before returning to Hillsboro. He was associate pastor at Parkview Mennonite Brethren Church and taught at Elyria Christian School outside McPherson. This fall will mark the start of his 10th year teaching in Tabor’s education department.

Loewen has previous experience with city government. He served on the library board for eight years. He also taught government.

He said joining the council would be an opportunity to serve his community and test political waters, since the appointment is only until April.

Dalke said Loewen’s Tabor background made him a good fit.

His wife, Joanne, also teaches at Tabor. They have two children. A son, also named David, just graduated from Tabor, and a daughter, Tena, will be a Tabor sophomore in the fall.

Audit

Accounting firm Adams, Brown, Beran, and Ball presented the 2013 city audit. The auditors determined there were no material misstatements in the city’s financial records.

The one “significant deficiency” in financial controls the auditors found was related to the city’s size. The city isn’t able to fully separate duties regarding making, receiving, and logging purchases. That shortcoming affects most small cities, and auditors noted Hillsboro has taken steps to mitigate the issue.

Auditors found that the city exceeded budgeted expenditures in the airport fund and that it didn’t include information about debt and liabilities as required with quarterly financial reports.

Airport plan

Engineer Darin Neufeld of EBH Engineering presented a draft of an airport master plan for Alfred Schroeder Field. The plan doesn’t require the city to do any projects, but it lays out how the city could improve the airport and what easements and other requirements would be needed.

The two major pieces of the plan include increasing the length and width of the runway and adding an eight-bay hangar. Increasing the runway size to 4,000 feet long and 75 feet wide would make it large enough for medical airplanes. The runway currently is 3,229 feet by 40 feet.

“I didn’t realize there even was a dream of going to a 4,000-foot runway,” Dalke said.

Fireworks complaint

City Administrator Larry Paine said he received a complaint about fireworks debris. He urged the council to pay attention to how fireworks affect neighbors, and asked whether they would want to consider restricting aerial fireworks in future years.

“It’s like a war zone in my neighborhood from now until the Fourth,” council member Bob Watson said.

Dalke said issues with fireworks were about people squabbling because their grandfathers fought two generations ago.

In other business:

  • The council set its budget hearing for 4 p.m. Aug. 5.
  • Council member Byron McCarty requested more enforcement of requirements to keep lawns under control.
  • The council met in closed session for 15 minutes to discuss personnel. No action was taken after the council returned to open session.
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