Hollister culture thriving | News Free

Hollister City Administrator Rick Ziegenfuss and Hollister Mayor Lamar Patton sat down with the Branson Tri-Lakes News to discuss the current state of the city of Hollister, the budget, future projects, payroll and the future for city employees and the Hollister culture. This is the final part in a five part series the Branson Tri-Lakes News published on this discussion.

Hollister and its city officials have spent years developing its own culture which is driven by communication, cooperation and making the city better for all its residents.

According to Ziegenfuss, city officials have monthly luncheons to do just that.

“We have what’s called the Hollister culture, we teach towards this kind of cooperation, this kind of heart for what’s going on,” Ziegenfuss said.

Deputy City Administrator Denise Olmstead started an initiative for city staff members to learn to put the heart of the Hollister community first.

“Denise’s initiative is called Lunch and Lead. It has its own logo. The mayor and I are both members of the class, ”Ziegenfuss said. “We have our own, now embroidered Hollister T shirts, that set us apart on class day. And what we teach is this (Hollister) culture to staff. You’re not ordered to attend. You volunteer and when the class is full, it’s full. And every other month, you go to lunch together and you learn about institutionalizing this heart for your community. This way forward. How to be in the mindset of ‘How lucky was that?’ You learn those things. ”

Ziegenfuss said the city officials are a part of the community and know what residents want.

“You can still hunt an Easter egg here. You can still come down to the park, put your blanket out with your bucket of chicken and watch the fireworks and watch the kids with sparklers. We do things because we can. We can because we know our city. We know the community. Can we have Santa talk about baby Jesus at our Christmas Tree lighting? Oh yeah. The ACLU hasn’t gotten us. Probably won’t.

“Can you put this mural down the street? Yeah. Did the railroad let you build that wall? No. We just built it. Can you use taxpayers money to do that? Yeah, we did. You know what? Communities that get bogged down with that kind of minutia are paralyzed. Nobody wants to accept responsibility to lead. You can’t do that. It’s a very bad format. ”

Patton said Hollister officials try to do what they can with what they have.

“We don’t want to live above our means,” Patton said. “But we still want to be able to do things for our community.”

Ziegenfuss said the city is committed to not raising taxes, if possible.

“Will we never raise taxes again? I can’t say that. But I can tell you that we’ve come a very long way without raising them. ”

Ziegenfuss said when they have gone to residents on a tax issue it is to help local businesses and residents.

“When we went to ask the voters for a use tax. I don’t know how many cities in the area have failed to get them passed. Our voters said yes because it made sense to them. Why? Because if you go to Herrman lumber and you get a skill saw off the shelf and say that’s exactly the one I want. And then put it back and go home and buy it online because it’s two cents cheaper. That’s wrong, because Herrman pays the bill. Herman keeps the doors open for the school. Herrman country payroll. Local businesses pay residents, pay for our schools, and for city services with taxes. We don’t want people going somewhere else. So everybody pays the same whether you buy it from Amazon, or whether you buy it at Herrmans. Don’t go home and shop online, pick the saw off the shelf and buy it at a local store. Take it with you because it’s the same price. And people understand that stuff. ”

Patton said it is about making decisions which have a positive impact on the community, but also to explain why decisions are made in a way everyone can understand.

“If we make things where they can understand it, they can trust us,” Patton said. “Trust is a big part of what we do.”

Ziegenfuss said being able to look forward and make plans for the future is important to help the city and businesses grow and is part of the Hollister culture as well.

“We passed a nightly rental tax, we didn’t even have a place that was nightly rental and we passed the tax and the attorneys said,‘ What are you doing? Why are you running this? ‘ It doesn’t apply to anybody. But when they come here we’re not going to wait till they start doing well and then say, ‘Okay, we’re going to tax you now.’ They know. It’s a condition of coming here. And it’s just done. The other thing is, when businesses come to Hollister, we figure out how this can work for you. Not why it can’t. Done, done, done, it’s a culture. ”

When one is helping to run a community, they should live in the community or at least make the city their hub, according to Ziegenfuss.

“The other thing is, we live here, right? We go to the grocery store. My wife just basically says, give me the grocery list. She takes the cart I try to keep up with her but every aisle there is someone who wants to talk to me. And when she’s done, I see her going to the checkout. I go over there. Well, you know what? So many times cities have their senior staff taking their money and living out of town, out of state, ”Ziegenfuss said. “They don’t shop at the local grocery store, or the local shops. They don’t hear people. Their neighbors don’t have kids in school. They don’t. That can’t work. We don’t require city employees to live in city limits. But basically, very few of our employees live outside of our area. But aside from that, everybody just lives here or in Omaha around, you know, and that kind of thing, so that we have a feel for what it’s like to be a resident of Hollister. ”

The city staff wants to be approachable and friendly with residents, according to Ziegenfuss. Whether it’s the city administrator who stops and talks at the grocery store, the mayor and aldermen spending time picking up trash and litter on the roads, the city staff helping with area events such as Santa Train and the Hollister Great Easter Egg Hunt or the friendly public works employee.

“Last summer, I heard from a resident. Public Works was repairing a water line. The lady sent me a message. So I said ‘okay, those are usually the beginning of something and it’s not always good,’ “Ziegenfuss recalled. “She feels a photograph of a little boy looking around a tree. Tim Crisler, an employee working the trackhoe, was digging and he waved at the little boy with the trackhoe arm. The little boy ran back home. The little boy was autistic. And the lady said in her message, when she moved here she was not sure that she wanted to come to Hollister because she was afraid she and her autistic child could find this as a home. And she wanted me to know that was the greatest thing. Her son just spent all day out there, watching them dig and doing work. Tim didn’t need to ask anybody whether he should wave at the little boy. Or whether or not Officer Jenkins should stop the patrol car, get out and play basketball for a little while with the kids. It’s our Hollister culture. ”

Ziegenfuss said the city has many employees whose passion and heart for the residents and Hollister will carry the town into the future.

“I’m old, I can’t be here forever. It’s time for new blood. It’s time for new people, new ideas, and a new heart, ”Ziegenfuss said. “I don’t want to be at my house or fishing and look back and say,‘ Why are they doing this? I’m not worried about that because of this culture. With the heart of service, the cooperation is going to get better and brighter. We haven’t seen the brightest part of this yet. And that’s the goal of everybody. It’s our culture. ”

To read the first four parts of this Hollister State of the City series, ‘Hollister 26% ahead of budget’, ‘Hollister to give city employees pay increases this year’, ‘City of Hollister manifests their own luck’, and ‘Hollister builds partnerships’ visit bransontrilakesnews.com.

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