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VOL. 125 | NO. 124 | Monday, June 28, 2010

Millington Launches Road Improvement As Flood Recovery Continues

By Bill Dries

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Millington Mayor Richard Hodges isn’t big on writing things down just to say they are written down.

So, if you ask – as The Assisi Foundation of Memphis Inc. did recently – for a copy of the city’s plan for dealing with the May Day flooding, he won’t have a thick binder with a contingency plan within.

“I said, ‘Well, you’ll have to come out there and look because we didn’t have a written plan,’” Hodges recalled. “It all came together far better than if we’d had a plan.”

Millington was hit harder by the flooding than any other part of Shelby County.

Yet, the town is not only recovering, Hodges and other city leaders broke ground last week for an $800,000 project to improve Navy Road between U.S. 51 and Veterans Parkway.

“There’s going to be three median strips with trees and flowers and lights – $800,000 worth,” he told The Daily News. “You’re not going to recognize Navy Road when it’s finished.”

Flush with the federal stimulus money, the city of Millington is moving ahead with those plans and others in the old town section of Millington on the north side of Navy Road near Easley Road.

Hodges campaigned on such improvements in the election that made him mayor of Millington in 2009. Millington is more reliant on sales tax revenue than property tax revenue. Thus Hodges has put a lot of emphasis on retail development along Navy Road and in the old town as well as along Highway 51.

Last week, Hodges met at City Hall with national Federal Emergency Management Agency director Craig Fugate.

“There were so many people that were going to need temporary assistance and getting the FEMA programs started up early was a lesson learned in these kinds of disasters,” Fugate said.

FEMA officials found Hodges was moving just as fast if not faster.

Hodges and his department heads began planning for the flooding recovery before the storms dumped enough rain to top levees in the area. They were tracking the storms two days before they arrived in the area.

“If you drive through over there right now, except for the storage pods in the front yards, you can’t tell there’s been a flood,” Hodges said. “It’s been remarkable how the community has pulled together.”

Hodges is the only suburban mayor on the 15-member Metro Charter Commission.

His assignment on the group drafting a consolidation charter was to look at ways to improve intergovernmental working arrangements.

The work was interrupted by the flooding. When Hodges made his recommendations they were essentially what happened when the waters began to rise. Surrounding cities and towns responded without being asked in many cases.

The city of Millington is also forgiving water, sewer and sanitation charges for residents affected by the flood. The city’s bills include a line advising those with flood damage to bring their bill to City Hall to have it “zeroed out,” Hodges said. Millington is also foregoing charges for building permits to repair flood damage.

Hodges recently turned over a list of addresses of the flooded homes to Shelby County Property Assessor Cheyenne Johnson who is considering taking a similar property tax proposal to the Shelby County Commission.

PROPERTY SALES 27 150 2,415
MORTGAGES 57 228 2,835
BUILDING PERMITS 157 441 6,509
BANKRUPTCIES 61 133 1,920