Moving on recalls time spent living
The measure of a man’s life is the well spending of it, and not the length.
– Plutarch (A.D. 46?–A.D. c. 120)
The circle of life keeps all of us on the same trail. We may take a turn one way while others turn the other, but the main road remains. We’re born, we grow up and eventually we pass on. What we do on that journey is how we live our life.
For John Hier, that journey is about to take him home. Back to where his journey began, with a life still to live. His journey continues, and what he leaves behind at Rifle City Hall remains.
Hier’s last day before retirement is tomorrow, Friday, May 10. He’s been the city manager of our fine city for nine years. That alone is something to be proud of, given the often politically charged atmosphere municipal administrators must endure.
They’re like politicians: They’ll never please everyone. Almost a no-win scenario, you know?
But it doesn’t look that way for Hier. He’s leaving with much admiration and appreciation from some of the people who know him best. That would be the ones who work for him, and those he has worked for over those nine years.
At the last City Council meeting, Hier was given two plaques in recognition of his public service to the city. One from the Rifle Area Chamber of Commerce and the other from the city itself.
Hier had kind words for the city staff and councilmembers he’s worked with, calling it “an honor to be able to serve you, the staff and the citizens of Rifle.”
He noted the common goal of helping move Rifle ahead, and “always finding a way. It was a very moving experience for me to be in this job.”
Most importantly, he thanked his wife, Melissa, for supporting him during his time as city manager, “through all the nine years of long nights.”
Melissa sat at her husband’s side when he announced during a January City Council meeting his intention to retire. And she was there the other night.
All seven councilmembers had kind words for the man a few of them have known as the only city manager they’ve worked with as elected officials.
The praise seems warranted, if you look at what’s changed in Hier’s nine years. The arrival of Walmart and all the commercial development south of the Colorado River, the natural gas boom of the early and mid-2000s and resulting growth in new homes that now has Rifle as a city of more than 9,000 people.
By no means was Hier solely responsible for all that good fortune (and the recent downturn wasn’t all his fault, either.) But through it all, Hier lead a staff and council in the direction that finds us where we are now. From my seat, not a bad place to be, despite a few warts.
From here, Hier and his wife will journey back to his birth place of Lincoln, Neb., where the family farm awaits attention. An avid gardener, Hier has vegetables to plant. And he plans to fish and hunt as much as possible.
Not a bad place to end up on one life’s journey, don’t you think?
“The curtains of yesterday drop down, the curtains of tomorrow roll up; but yesterday and tomorrow both are.”
Mike McKibbin is the editor of The Citizen Telegram.
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