Norman L. Hay. When a group of really progressive, enterprising and public-spirited men get in control of a local government, it matters little what special form of charter or municipal organization they operate under, they do things and an entire community feels an uplift. This is well illustrated in the case of the City of Sedan, where Norman L. Hay had been mayor since 1912, and in close co-operation with the city council dominated by similar ideas as to the public good, he had brought about results which justify unusual pride in the part of Sedan in its civic and municipal efficiency.
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Mr. Hay had served on the city council three years before he was elected mayor. When he took charge of the city government there was a municipal debt of $8,000. Under the old regime this debt was almost stationary, but during the first two years of the Hay administration, with the aid of the council, old debts to the extent of $3,500 were paid, expenses were kept rigidly within the budget of allowances, no new debts were contracted, and the city now had the pleasant anticipation of retiring all its bonds, except the waterworks bonds, in April, 1917.
At the same time the municipal administration had been exceedingly progressive. An electric lighting system was installed, and a franchise was granted to the Sedan Electric Light Company, and an unusual feature of this grant is that the city is paid 1 per cent of the gross receipts. The old custom was to grant franchises without any return to the city, and the action of Sedan is an illustration of the experience that franchises have real value. During the present administration a stone crusher was bought by the city government, and it had been possible to deliver crushed stone on the streets for paving and other purposes at 95 cents a ton. New equipment had been bought for the fire department, including a modern motor truck, and the standards of efficiency have been raised.
The weak spot in municipal government too often had been the accounting system. No one, not even the city officials, have had a real knowledge of where the money comes from, how it is paid out, or the proportion between income and expenditures. Perhaps the most notable accomplishment of Mayor Hay’s administration had been the installation of a complete financial accounting system. By this system the revenues of the city are so classified, the bonded and the current debts are so discriminated, and the financial condition of every department of the city government is so concisely stated, that any citizen can tell almost at a glance the general fiscal condition. These financial reports of the city are a model, and they would go further than any other one thing toward the introduction of real business methods into the management of a municipality.
Norman L. Hay, apart from his official relation with Sedan is best known as a successful oil producer. He was born at Tracy, LaPorte County, Indiana, January 6, 1861. His ancestors were Scotch people who came to New York in colonial times. His grandfather, James Hay, was born in New York in 1785 and died in Schoharie County of the same state in 1865. His life was spent as a farmer.
Samuel S. Hay, father of Mayor Hay, was born in Schoharie County, New York, in 1829, and died at LaPorte, Indiana, in 1910. He was reared and married in his native county, and soon after his marriage removed to LaPorte County, Indiana. He was one of the early settlers there, developed a farm from the wilderness, and the prosperity that rewarded his strenuous efforts enabled him eventually to retire into the City of LaPorte, where he spent his last days. When he began voting he supported the whig ticket, later became a republican, and was very much interested in local affairs, serving as township trustee of Union Township in Laporte County. He was one of the founders of the Methodist Protestant Church at Tracy, Indiana, and served as trustee of that organization. Samuel S. Hay married Emma J. Richtmeyer, who was born in New York State in 1835, and died in LaPorte, Indiana, in August, 1913. They had two children. The older is Eva E., wife of August Kregle, and as retired farmers they now make their home in LaPorte.
Norman L. Hay grew up on a farm, attended the public schools of LaPorte County, spent two years in Valparaiso University, and in 1881 entered upon a career as a teacher. He was long identified with educational work and put in fifty-five months of teaching in Laporte County.
On leaving Indiana Mr. Hay went to Minneapolis, Minnesota, and became connected with the S. H. Hall & Company, potato dealers. This company had four plants for the making of potato flour. Mr. Hay was employed as a traveling salesman and placed large quantities of this flour all over the East, in Philadelphia, Baltimore and other cities.
Coming to Sedan, Kansas, in 1903, Mr. Hay began buying oil properties for Mr. S. H. Hall, Ernest F. Smith and E. C. Best of Minneapolis. This brought him into intimate touch with the oil industry of Southern Kansas, and in 1906 he took up independent production. His scope of efforts had been largely in Chautauqua County and he now had interests in eighty-one oil wells. He bought a home on Douglas Street, and in 1912 extensively remodeled it so that it is perfectly adapted both for summer and winter residence.
In matters of politics Mr. Hay had exercised an independent choice among the candidates and policies which have corresponded to his convictions. He is a member of the Modern Woodmen of America at Sedan, and takes a very active part in the Baptiat Church, being a trustee of the church and sings his part in the choir.
In 1885 at Waupaca, Wisconsin, Mr. Hay married Miss Grace E. Hall, daughter of Henry H. and Henrietta (Woodard) Hall, both of whom are now deceased. Her father died at the venerable age of ninety-six years, at Waupaca, Wisconsin. He spent most of his active life as a farmer. Mr. and Mrs. Hay have two children. Elvie Mae died at the age of eight months. Cressy J., who was born August 23, 1888, and still makes her home with her parents at Sedan, is a graduate in the expression department of Ottawa University, at Ottawa, Kansas, and also studied expression in Curry’s School of Expression at Boston, Massachusetta. She is a very cultured young woman.