[Posted April 13, 2023]
When the Usual Suspects gathered on the first Saturday in March for their monthly litter patrol, there was a surprise in store for ringleader Rick Seifert. In appreciation for his longstanding commitment to harnessing community volunteer energy to keep Hillsdale tidy, the Hillsdale Business and Professional Association (HBPA) presented Seifert with a piece of custom headgear proclaiming him “Chief Suspect.”
On receiving the hat and the Chief Suspect designation, Seifert noted that he shares the honor with all of the Suspects: “You do all the hard work,” he said, “I just bring the trash grabbers.” (For those uninitiated in the ways of litter collection, trash grabbers are the helpful, trigger-activated claw tool that makes it easier to grab trash without bending down.)
Mike Roach, co-owner of Paloma Clothing, spoke up to clarify that Seifert’s leadership is the reason the volunteers have continued to show up each month for more than a decade. “You inspire us, Rick, on the days like today when it’s cold and wet and we wonder if we really want to go out and pick up trash. Thank you for the inspiration you’ve given us all these years!” And indeed, inspiration was needed that wet morning with temperatures hovering around 40 degrees.
Seifert's impact on Hillsdale goes well beyond trash pick-up. Beginning with the founding of the Hillsdale Connection in 1994, his efforts quite literally helped to put Hillsdale "on the map." Long used to refer to the area informally, the name Hillsdale only became the official neighborhood designation in the 1990s following grassroots community development work by Seifert and others.
The Hillsdale Connection turned into the Southwest Community Connection. A few years after turning the keys to the Connection over to Pamplin Media, Seifert's attention focussed once again on Hillsdale and he founded the online-only Hillsdale News (which you are perusing at this very moment).
In addition to instituting the outlets that we rely on today for hyper-local community information, Seifert has either founded or been active in the development of many other Hillsdale civic institutions:
Hillsdale Vision Group
Hillsdale Farmer’s Market
Hillsdale Main Street
Hillsdale Community Foundation
Hillsdale Assistance Team
Friends of Hopewell House
And of course, the Usual Suspects litter patrol. If you would like to become a Suspect, all you have to do is show up at the patio in front of Basics Market on the first Saturday of the month at 9am.
Hillsdale has come a long way since the days of the Hillsdale Connection. What's next? Tell us about your vision for the future of Hillsdale.