The Hillsboro Economic Revitalization Organization (HERO) began in 1997 with lunchtime meetings, and ended the same way in 2013.
Five HERO members present for its monthly meeting July 17 voted unanimously to dissolve the 16-year-old group by year’s end.
President Marti Graham, Secretary Sharon McKelvey, Treasurer Arda Kolowrat, and members Sherry Jones and Liz Parish approved Jones’ motion to dissolve, which McKelvey seconded, after learning of the lack of response to Jones’ call during HERO’s June meeting for businesspeople, charity representatives and citizens to suggest what the group should do to fulfill its mission of promoting economic activity in Hillsboro.
Kolowrat said she received one telephone call from a citizen who misinterpreted acronyms and thought Helping Our People Everyday (HOPE), which raises money for cancer research, was dissolving.
Parish said she also received only one telephone call, from an unnamed “elderly gentleman” who was sorry to hear about HERO’s impending demise, and understood why it was happening.
Jones, Graham and Parish discussed dissolution last month after Parish reported no civic groups responded to HERO’s 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 paid the City Clerk’s office the $20 seasonal permit fee for the booth.
Dwindling manpower, as well as civic apathy, led to the decision.
In both May and June, only three members attended meetings. Only four were present in April, and five were present in both January and February. The best-attended meeting of the year to date was in March, when seven members attended.
One year ago, seven members set a date for a holiday raffle and made plans to contact area businesses regarding prize donations.
In addition, Graham said she was going to leave HERO by year’s end due to other commitments.
She serves as a Town of Union supervisor, operates Ole & Lena’s Candle, Gift & Ceramic Shop–formerly on Water Ave., now an online-only business–with McKelvey, and works full-time as an animal health inspector for the state.
The five also began preliminary discussions about which local non-profit group or groups will receive HERO’s remaining assets after the group’s debts and other outstanding obligations are paid, per Article IX, Section 6 of HERO’s constitution and bylaws.
Graham distributed to fellow members and media present a list of 14 Hillsboro organizations eligible to receive tax-deductible contributions, among them HOPE, the Hillsboro Area Historical Society, Cesky Den, and Hillsboro Fireman’s Memorial Park. She obtained the list from the Internal Revenue Service website, IRS.gov.
Parish expressed support for donating HERO’s remaining assets to Friends of the Hillsboro Library, a group not registered as a 501(c)(3) organization with the IRS.
McKelvey estimated the forms required to register as a tax-exempt organization would take approximately 30 minutes to complete. Friends of the Library would need to account for its funding for the past three years.
Kolowrat, a HOPE founder, expressed her support for the group, which is best known for its annual fundraising walk at the Hillsboro High School track.
Graham said she believed any further discussions about distributing HERO’s remaining assets to one non-profit group or among several should be held in a meeting closed to both the public and the media.
The members scheduled that meeting for Nov. 13 at 11 a.m. at Royal Bank, to allow time for Friends of the Hillsboro Library to be recogznized by the IRS as a non-profit organization, if it so chooses.
After that, HERO will distribute its remaining assets as checks at a final meeting Dec. 11 at 11 a.m. at Royal Bank.
Kolowrat thanked Jones for the use of Royal Bank’s conference room, where HERO has met monthly since January 2011, and for contributing artwork she created for monthly newsletters from the now-defunct St. Joseph’s Nursing Home for its coloring contests for children and adults.
The five also thanked the Hillsboro Sentry-Enterprise for its coverage of HERO’s activities.
A brief history
According to information on HERO’s website, http://www.oleandlenas.us/hillsborowihero/index.html, the group began in 1997, when then-City Administrator Ed Emerson and then-Mayor Alan Picha brought interested citizens together in a series of lunchtime meetings to help both the Water Ave. business district and the community at large.
In January 1999, Picha filed articles of incorporation. HERO received its letter of recognition as a non-profit organization from the IRS July 12, 2001.
HERO’s first board included President Dan Kouba, Vice-President Mike Steckel, and Treasurer Roxanne Rott. Picha was its first secretary.
Since then, HERO has donated to local Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs, assisted with Cesky Den and with creation of a brochure promoting tourism.
Its recent efforts include donating bookshelves to KindredHearts–now Milestone Senior Living–and an automated external heart defibrillator to the Hillsboro Police Department, as well as a new Christmas tree to the city. It also sponsored last year’s Child ID and Safety Day at Hillsboro High.
Following the brief history of the group on the ‘About Us’ web page is the phrase “To Be Continued…”