I realize I could be accused of being a “homer,” boasting about my hometown, but I like to think that the facts are on my side when I make the case for: Hillsboro Rising. Let me be clear, it’s not just the smell of the yeast rising from the big new White’s Bakery on Main Street, but oh my, those cherry turnovers are enough to lift up anyone in Highland County.
But I’m also thinking, just to name a few things that come to mind, about the freshened up boutique shops in the historical district, the new uptown fountain adorned with a riot of colorful flowers, the soon-to-be rising Marriott Hotel, the newly updated Farmers’ Market Square, the wow-factor of the spectacular new middle senior high school auditorium and high on the hill the beautifully expanded and updated Highland County District Hospital. Southern State Community College’s announcement of a dual-admissions agreement with the University of Cincinnati College of Nursing is a big deal and represents a tremendous opportunity for area students who might be interested in a career that is in great demand all over the country.
Tax revenues are up in spite of the downward pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic. The New Market Solar I and II projects are projected to add to the county’s coffers something in the order of $900,000 a year for the next 35 years with something in the order of 60 percent of that revenue going to our public schools. That will be a tremendous return on investment in our future.
The Highland County Senior Center is back open, much to the delight of seniors who have felt the isolation from the pandemic perhaps more than any other segment of our community. As a suggestive aside, I’d applaud some enterprising entrepreneur who wanted to open up a scoop-me-a-cone gelato-ice-cream shop somewhere downtown. No offense to DQ, to which I’m struggling with a weekly pecan-cluster blizzard addiction.
What comes down must grow back up, so with the demolition of the unstable Parker House Hotel, we’re still hoping for a high-rise to fill the Parker House space, as the south side of Main Street continues to brighten up. Homeowners have to be happy about the rise in home values, but it’s a zero-sum business because rising property values make it harder for buyers, especially first-time buyers.
And you’d have to be blind not to notice the home improvements all over town. Maybe it had something to do with the fix-it-up enterprises of homebound folks during the pandemic. But whatever, it seems to have affected commercial properties too. How about CAS, Chad Abbott’s new building on S.R. 73, or Cornele Plumbing’s shiny new headquarters on Catherine Street.
As more Americans and Ohioans are seeking to find places in the rural environs of our nation and state, Hillsboro will be a destination refuge for many, like it has been for my wife and me. As a community, we need to keep leaning into the future.
My daughter and her two children came to visit us this past week at our farm, escaping the hot and tight environs of greater Boston… no offense to Boston, it’s one of my favorite cities. The first night she slept until 11:30 a.m. the next morning. She confessed at breakfast, which by the clock really was lunch, that she couldn’t recall ever sleeping that late. That my friends and relatives is “country living.”
So, let the yeast keep rising at White’s Bakery, along with a notably rising Hillsboro!
Bill Sims is a Hillsboro resident, retired president of the Denver Council on Foreign Relations, an author and runs a small farm in Berrysville with his wife. He is a former educator, executive and foundation president.