Hillsboro extends mask ordinance, seeks engineer
After years of having engineering work done by EBH Engineers, Hillsboro council members voted Tuesday to seek proposals from different engineering firms.
“Occasionally, we do have some struggles with timeliness, and that has been kind of a problem,” mayor Lou Thurston said.
City administrator Matt Stiles said the city would put out a call for other engineering firms to submit their qualifications, experience, quality control, depth of staff, and ability to be the city engineer.
After reviewing the proposals submitted, council members would meet with company representatives.
“It’s not that they would have a retainer situation, but that they would have an opportunity to talk to the council about how their services would be done,” Stiles said.
A Hillsboro mask ordinance originally passed in November was extended to March 23.
The vote to extend the ordinance was split 4-1, with councilman Renee Gehring opposed.
“In the last 17 days, Marion County has experienced 23% of the total cases since the pandemic officially started,” Stiles told council members.
Stiles said the city had received only one complaint about a business’ employees not wearing masks. The police department advised the business that its employees needed to wear masks.
“The way things have been going, cases haven’t gone down,” Stiles said.
Stiles also updated council members on Herington Municipal Hospital’s closing of its Hillsboro Clinic.
The hospital announced a week ago that it would close the clinic April 30, blaming congress for a cap on Medicare payments for new rural health clinics.
Stiles said he told hospital chief financial officer Bryan Coffey the hospital must enclose the building’s exterior in order to comply with the terms of its building permit.
“Right now they are working on putting a roof onto the building,” Stiles said. “They’re planning to put siding on it. They’re talking about whether to put insulation on the windows there.”
The building permit was granted based on a set of plans, he said. The hospital must comply with most of the plans.
A Jan. 5 lawsuit filed by a Herington taxpayer challenges the legality of the hospital having opened a clinic in Hillsboro.