A combination of members’ outside activities and civic apathy may spell the end of the Hillsboro Economic Revitalization Organization (HERO) by late summer.
During the group’s regular monthly meeting June 12, three members–President Marti Graham, Sherry Jones and Liz Parish–discussed dissolving HERO.
Numbers tell the story. This marked the second consecutive month that only three members attended the monthly meeting. Graham, Parish and Secretary Sharon McKelvey attended the May meeting.
McKelvey was absent due to ongoing physical therapy as she continues her recovery from a February 2012 automobile accident.
In April, only four members were present–Graham, Jones, Parish and Treasurer Arda Kolowrat.
Seven members attended the March meeting–the high mark of attendance for the year to date–and five were present in both February and January.
Last June, nine members attended HERO’s monthly meeting–Graham, Jones, Kolowrat, McKelvey, Parish, Garth Hitselberger, Jean Johnson, Georgette Sandeed and Tom Martish, who is no longer a member.
The dissolution discussion began after Parish reported that no civic groups have responded to HERO’s recent offer to make available for free a fundraising booth at Hillsboro’s farmers’ market, which is held from 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays through October in the parking lot of Royal Bank’s Hillsboro branch at the intersection of Water Ave. and Mill Street.
HERO is paying the City Clerk’s office the $20 seasonal permit fee for the booth.
She added that in the past two weeks, she has seen only two vendors offering goods for sale at the market.
The free fundraising booth is HERO’s second plan in three months to stimulate interest in the weekly event. In March, the group approved paying 50 percent –$10–of the seasonal permit fee.
Graham said that HERO has done all it can do to encourage businesspeople, charitable organizations and private citizens to participate in the group, which exists to revitalize Hillsboro and the surrounding area by promoting industry, tourism, agriculture and other economic activities.
In January 2011, the group changed both the time and the setting of its meetings to make them more accessible to both board members and the public. Previously held at 6:30 p.m. the second Wednesday of each month at KindredHearts–now Milestone Senior Living–on Salsbery Circle, meetings are now held from 11 a.m.-12 p.m. in Royal Bank’s meeting room.
This year, the group also moved its annual meeting from an evening session at the Hotel Hillsboro to a daytime gathering at Royal Bank for the same reason.
Yet the room’s empty chairs for a second consecutive month told a visual tale of the dwindling manpower which precipitated the dissolution discussion.
Seventeen of 21 chairs in the room were vacant.
“No one wants to put forth any effort,” Parish said.
Members’ absences have in the past hampered HERO’s ability to conduct business during regular meetings. The board addressed that situation in January by reducing the number of members necessary to constitute a quorum.
Graham said she plans to leave the organization soon, due to other commitments.
She serves as a supervisor for the Town of Union and, with McKelvey, continues operating Ole & Lena’s Candle, Gift and Ceramic Shop–which previously occupied the Water Ave. building now housing the Hillsboro Brewing Company tavern/restaurant–as an online-only operation, and works full-time as an animal health inspector for the state.
As a result, Graham said she has “no energy” to put in the time to be a HERO member and officer.
She looked back at the group’s accomplishments, which include the purchase of an automated external defibrillator for the Hillsboro Police Department, last year’s Child ID and Safety Day at Hillsboro High School, fundraising raffles in 2010 and 2012, a 2011 chili cook-off at Firemen’s Park, and coloring contests for children and adults.
“We did what we could,” she said.
Furthermore, Parish sits on the Hillsboro City Council, and Jones is both branch manager and loan officer at Royal Bank.
Johnson is also involved in the Lions Club, the Good Samaritan Thrift Shop on Mill St., and the St. Joseph’s Foundation. Earlier this year, she took a bus trip to Alabama to spend one week as a volunteer rebuilding tornado-damaged homes.
Jones said that HERO either needs more community support, or it will have to dissolve.
Her words echoed sentiments voiced over three years ago by then-member Melissa Picha, who motioned during the group’s 2010 annual meeting to dissolve HERO because of lack of both membership and community interest–a motion which was defeated.
Jones suggested, in the face of a second looming dissolution in four years, that businesspeople, representatives of local charitable organizations and private citizens should contact HERO’s members and officers to suggest what HERO should be doing to promote economic activity in the community.
Those interested in offering suggestions should contact any current HERO member:
• Graham: firstname.lastname@example.org
• Hitselberger: email@example.com
• Johnson: JeanJohnson66@yahoo.com
• Jones: firstname.lastname@example.org
• Kolowrat: email@example.com
• McKelvey: firstname.lastname@example.org
• Parish: email@example.com
• Sandeen: firstname.lastname@example.org
• Jan Wilson: email@example.com
Article IX, Section 6 of HERO’s constitution and bylaws states that should HERO dissolve, its assets remaining after paying the group’s debts and other obligations would be distributed “to a local non-profit fund, foundation or corporation which is organized exclusively for charitable, educational, religious, and/or scientific purposes and which has established its tax-exempt status under Section 501 (c) of the Internal Revenue Code.”
Dissolution will be discussed further at HERO’s July meeting, which will be held one week later than usual due to a schedule conflict on Jones’ part. It will be held at 11 a.m. July 17 at Royal Bank. The public is invited to attend.
Should the members present at that time decide to dissolve the organization, a closed meeting will be held in August to determine the distribution of remaining property, in accordance with HERO’s constitution and bylaws.