Have you ever really wanted to do something but couldn’t? That appeared to be the situation the Board of Aldermen for the Town of Hodge was in following a Public Meeting regarding the sale by sealed bid of the old “ball field” in Hodge. At least for the moment.
Hodger Mayor, Gerald Palmer opened the Public Meeting that was held prior to the regular monthly session by announcing that the village had received one bid of $40,000.00 for the 7.166 acre tract located at 1211 South Elm Street that is commonly referred to a the Old Ball Field but it was unacceptable.
“The bid received was unable to be considered because it didn’t meet the minimum amount ($70,000.00) that the Board had set forth as being acceptable,” said Palmer. “Since this was the only bid we received, I am going to ask the Board to consider reducing the minimum amount allowed to be accepted to $40,000.00.”
This led to several questions from the public about what the bidding company had planned and how it would benefit the town to accept a lesser amount. Kim Brunson, APRN, FNP-BC from Mercy Medical Health Center, who submitted the bid, addressed the requests for clarification.
“What we have planned is initially a 25,000 square foot facility that will allow local resident to receive all of their medical attention needs at one place,” said Brunson. “When we started at the Hodge Shopping Center we had three employees. Now we have 80.We have outgrown the Shopping Center and we need a larger place to continue to grow as we have planned.”
“The vision is to not only provide basic medical care for the low income and uninsured but also be able to locally provide specialists from different fields that would keep our residents from having to drive to places like Shreveport,” continued Brunson. “We are also looking at expanding our Pharmacy capabilities of providing low cost medicine and adding a Wellness Center that people could use for free.”
Village of Hodge Alderman, Steve Fox, added that the benefits received by having Mercy Medical build on the land provided many benefits in the long run to local residents and town and easily offset the decrease in money that that would be initially received for the sale of the land.
“Our sales tax base is going to go up. As a town we will receive more money from property tax income,” reflected Fox. “Jobs are going to be created for local people and then there is also the consideration of what is your time worth? It is much better to be able to drive a few blocks to see a specialist rather than having to take a trip to Shreveport. Plus our elderly who have transportation problems will be able to receive local care from specialists as well.”
In the end it was agreed that a new resolution with a minimum bid requirement at $40,000.00 would be offered and that new postings for sealed bids would be posted as prescribed.
The regularly scheduled monthly meeting ensued with much discussion held about the use and/or sale of fireworks within town limits and the advantages and disadvantages associated with it.
“We had an Ordinance in 2000 that allowed fireworks and then in 2005 adopted one that didn’t,” said Palmer. “This is being brought up again and is something that we need to look at next meeting.”
Next on the agenda was the disposition of the old Town Hall and what needed to be done.
“Originally the building was being leased for $1,000.00 with the tenant required to maintain upkeep,” said Palmer. “When COVID hit it caused problems with the tenant so we agreed to reduce the rent to $500.00 a month to help out, but the tenant was still required to provide upkeep on the building.”
Palmer then passed out several photos to the Board that showed how rundown the building had become and wasn’t being maintained.
“As you can see, the building looks like it has been vacated and it is obvious that the tenant is providing upkeep and living up to the contract. I propose to the Board that you make a decision on what needs to be done to solve this problem.”
It was decided that a close eye would be kept over the next 30 days and if proven that the tenant was not honoring the agreement that steps would be taken. The Fire and Police Department followed with their monthly report. Wilda Smith of the Jackson Parish Chamber of Commerce then announced the Jackson Parish Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony would be on Saturday, November 6th and gave an update on the upcoming Christmas Festivities before the meeting adjourned.
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