Hodge Council members mull village improvements

During the next six months to a year, the Village of Hodge will see a tremendous amount of development work take place. As with any start of something, growing pains can be expected. At their monthly meeting this past Tuesday, May 9th, the council members for Hodge along with Mayor Gerald Palmer mulled over what the future holds and acted on certain items that needed to be resolved now.

The session began with Willard Willis, Steve Fox, and Martha Buchan approving the minutes, meeting minutes, and monthly bills from April. That led to the introduction of several items that led to considerable discussion among council members, village administration, and the guests in the audience.

The lion’s share of comments centered on a proposed ordinance regarding parking on village streets. Being presented was banning parking in the street on either side of Oak, West Pine St, South 4th, and 1st streets as it is causing serious traffic flow problems.

Much of the discussion was regarding 1st Street, which runs behind the old shopping center that Mercy Medical Health Center (MMHC) recently purchased and is in the process of refurbishing and remodeling. After hearing the plans for 1st Street, CEO Kim Brunson, requested the council considered the needs of MMHC regarding parking and flow. After several suggestions were discussed, a plan that was beneficial for the village and MMHC was agreed to by both parties.

Mayor Palmer also stated that construction of the new Dollar General Store, which will be located at the recently cleared area between the United Pentecostal Church and Hodge Bank on the west side of Hwy 167, is expected to begin this week, weather permitting. Considerations for a planned Farm Bureau office that is slated to be between the Dollar General Store and Hodge Bank were also considered.

Further discussion was about the introduction of utility rates in the village being raised to offset the growing costs of operation of the municipality. A final decision on this, the disposition of stated streets, and a vote on the budget for the fiscal year 2023-24 are expected at the June council meeting.

“We don’t have any choice but to look at raising the utility rates as an option,” said Palmer. “The good news is that if this goes forward, residents won’t have to deal with surcharges anymore and our rates will still be lower than comparable villages of our size across the state.”

Mayor Palmer also stated sealed bids for the purchase of the old Town Hall building on Hwy 167 would be read on May 10th. If none were received, then the Village of Hodge would move forward with taking steps to possible sale the building outright as allowed by law.

In final action, before council members and Mayor Palmer made final comments, it was stated that Hodge Police Officer, Anthony Dill, had graduated from the recently held training academy and earned Level One Post Certification.

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