ORIGINALLY WRITTEN LAURA CAMPBELL
It may not make for an easy road, and it may not make him popular, but Steve Seifert is a firm believer in chasing after dreams.
And doing what he believes is the right thing, day after day, is one way the Lost Springs mayor tries to help town residents as well as himself achieve their dreams.
“I never want to wake up some morning, and say, ‘What if I would have?'” Seifert said.
Making dreams happen starts in the little things, he said, and that’s why he puts in the extra hours for the town as its mayor.
“There’s not a lot of glitz and glamour to it,” Seifert said. “I just do what I can.”
And with no other city employees to help with maintenance work, Seifert said he usually spends too much time on the job for wife Angie’s liking, and often too little for the liking of some of the town’s 90 residents.
“I devote a lot of time to the city,” he said. “But I feel like somebody needs to.
“A lot of this gets done by a few of us,” he added.
A native of Clifton, Seifert came to Lost Springs in 2001 with his wife-back to her “stomping grounds”-and daughters Selena, now 16, and Samantha, 13, after living several years in Evans, Colo.
Having served on the Evans parks and recreation committee and city council, Seifert was quickly voted to the Lost Springs city council in 2001 and then to the mayoral position in 2003.
Being mayor is similar to serving on city council except for one change, Seifert said.
“I catch more of the irate phone calls,” he said with a laugh. “That’s the major difference.”
But Seifert is used to taking the road less traveled and more criticized, having decided at age 32 to go back to college and complete his degree after more than a decade of employment at John Deere dealerships in both Kansas and Colorado.
An injury on the job led Seifert to enroll at Kansas State University in 1994, and two years later he added a bachelor’s degree in social science with an emphasis in mass communication to his associate’s in business from Cloud County Community College in Concordia.
Now an employee of Agri-Producers Inc. in Herington, Seifert said he would still like to pursue the career in broadcasting he’d initially set out to do.
“When we first moved back here (to Kansas), they still had a country radio station in Herington, and they did all the local sports,” he said. “I got hooked up with them and did play-by-play football and basketball for two years.
“I still have the dream of being in broadcasting,” he added. “It might happen, it might not.”
Already, Seifert is pursuing that dream in his own way, and area residents may be familiar with his work whether they realize it or not.
“I have a DJ and karaoke business that I own and operate,” he said of his three-year-old company, Highway 77 Express.
In addition to announcing at Centre High School sporting events, Seifert regularly karaokes at local bars. “I get to sit there and watch people make fools out of themselves every night,” he said.
He also is a DJ at special events, such as a recent anniversary reception where the music of choice differed from his standard fare of classic rock, country and rap.
“I never play waltzes and polkas, but I did,” he said with a laugh. “But I keep up with it all.
“I like some of the new stuff-I don’t have a problem with it,” Seifert added.
Music has always been his preferred mode of expression, Seifert said, whether he’s being a DJ, singing or playing the trumpet, guitar or piano.
“I was in bands in high school and college,” he said. “I played sports, but I was never terribly athletic. Where I excelled was my music.”
But Seifert is certainly no stranger to sporting events.
“I’m a fan of sports, period,” he said. “And I’m gonna be the loudest one there, because I enjoy it.
“I guess that’s just my expression, my way of expressing myself,” he added.
And for the last three years-including just over a week ago-those attending the county fair’s demolition derby have heard Seifert’s voice loud and clear over the PA system.
“I think it’s a blast,” he said of the annual demo derby. “It’s a great community-type event.
Whether announcing the demo derby or any other sporting event, Seifert enjoys getting the crowd involved as much as he can.
“I’m getting into it, so everybody else might as well get into it,” he said. “That’s how I always look at it.”
And for no other team do Seifert and his family get into it as much as his K-State Wildcats.
“We bleed purple,” he said with a laugh.
Until two years ago, the Seiferts had K-State football season tickets that had his wife, and sometimes himself, driving all the way from Colorado to attend games.
“She’d come back for all the home games,” he said. “We’d do the whole thing-tailgating and everything.”
But Seifert doesn’t always stay on the sidelines-he plays softball in the Marion County men’s league and basketball on Sunday nights.
“I do a lot of stuff,” he said. “I try to keep active.”
Seifert has also been active on behalf of the city during his four years in town.
At the beginning of his first term as mayor, he oversaw completion of new sewer ponds, which he now takes care of as a certified wastewater operator.
“That was the first major big deal that I got in on,” Seifert said of the sewer pond project, begun during his term as council member.
“I’m kind of the one that sat there at city council meetings and said, ‘Guys, we’ve got to do this. There’s no other way about it,'” he added. “Something had to happen.”
Seifert also said something needs to happen with the town’s water system.
“That’s my one big goal,” he said. “I’d like to get water for the town-decent drinking water.
“Down the road, that’s one thing I’d like to do.”
Even sooner than that, Seifert said he has a demolition project in the works that may lead to the teardown of some unsightly-and unsafe-buildings that residents still won’t want to see go.
“It’s just an attempt to try to clean it up a bit, make the town more attractive,” he said.
The project stems from Seifert’s desire to see more businesses come to the area.
“I am very big on economic development,” he said.
“Maybe, if those dilapidated old building weren’t there, it might give somebody a vision, like ‘Hey, I could build something there.'”
Seifert has often made recommendations or decisions that go against the flow, he said, such as the recent construction of a new fire station in town.
“That was rewarding,” he said of the decision. “It wasn’t a popular choice, by no means.”
But being occasionally unpopular won’t keep Seifert from continuing to do what he thinks is right.
“That’s one thing I’ve really learned about this job,” he said. “I’m not going to satisfy everybody.
“I just try to do my job, and try to make what I think are the best decisions for the town.”