LOOKING UP: With ‘Les’ you got more
Tuesday, 05 February 2013 by Joe Baisden
One of the great joys of serving on the Belton City Council from 2005 until 2009 was getting to know and appreciate Les Hallbauer—the man and his ingenious ways. Les had been serving with distinction as Director of Public Works for a number of years when I came to know him.
I saw in Les an extremely high level of love for this community and a tireless dedication to making Public Works work. He never drew attention to himself, but when tremendous tasks were proposed, all eyes turn to Les. When things seemed impossible, Les found a way to make them possible.
I shall never forget the meeting when Les revealed the design for the proposed splash pad across from the Harris Community Center. His enthusiasm and excitement about the project was contagious. He made us see how the spraying water was going to come out of outlets built into objects reminiscent of the old west and in keeping with our Chisholm Trail theme.
The finished product was as he said it would be. The success of that project led to a second splash pad in South Belton.
Les had a heart for the youth of Belton and found great joy in expanding and enhancing the city's parks. The parks program of the city has come a long way from when Yettie Polk, Confederate, and a few ball fields were just about the only grounds available. When the floodwaters of Nolan Creek dislodged some of the new Hike and Bike Trail just weeks before Independence Day, Les and his staff had the trail looking good as new in time for the annual celebration.
Les had an amazing way of stretching taxpayer dollars. He could stay within budget and produce more than was expected. When there was money to pave a few streets, he would find a way to pave a few more with the money allotted and without sacrificing quality of workmanship.
Les utilized the city workforce efficiently and effectively, making sure all the bases were covered as needs changed from time to time and season to season.
Les demonstrated a great deal of patience, as it would take time to realize the various visions for progress along the way. Just last year, the city finally got a more adequate Public Works complex, replacing the obsolete "city barn" on West Avenue D. The former headquarters of the district highway engineer on SH 436 was bought by the city and converted to a spacious and better-equipped facility.
Les was a man of quiet strength and had an effective leadership style. He was comprehensive in his concern for all parts of the city and all people living here. He had a cooperative spirit that played a significant role in so many projects in which the city was involved with other community entities.
I am sure that Les may have been frustrated at times, but I never saw him show it. I never heard him complain about the long hours he was called upon to work or the endless meetings he had to attend. It was obvious that he was willing to do more than was required in order to keep the city's services running smoothly.
Les was a paid employee of the city, but above all else he was a servant, ready to respond to whatever needed to be done. By Jesus's definition, Les is a great man. Jesus said, "Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant" (Matt. 20:26). Les could have written the book on servant leadership.
This brief tribute only begins to call attention to the innumerable contributions to our city made by this selfless servant.
Les is retiring from the City this week after 20 years of dedicated service. We citizens of Belton owe Les a tremendous debt of gratitude.
"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men." (Col. 3:23)