Treva City Hall

Mayor-Elect Treva Hodges will take office at noon on January 1st with several new appointments and a couple of familiar faces joining her to fill key positions within her administration.

Hodges says she began working to form a transition team immediately following the November election, and has moved forward with eyes on taking over work in the Mayor’s office despite several subsequent weeks being tied up in a recount and election contest question. The Mayor-Elect left her legal team to hash through recount issues while she remained focused on the year ahead with her transition team, comprised of Charlestown locals Donna Ennis, Jim Adams, and Jim James. The committee put out a general call for applicants mid-November and received a wide variety of resumes from prospective applicants.  According to a pre-determined process, all identifying information was removed from the documents and the transition team members ranked resumes based on skill and experience. Following the anonymous ranking process, the highest ranked applicants were interviewed, and the team reached a consensus based on point rank and the interview process.

As Hodges begins her tenure as Mayor of Charlestown next Wednesday, the following early appointees will join in helping to guide her incoming administration:

Position Appointee
City Attorney Mickey Weber
Chief of Police Tim Wolff
Director of City Services Tobin Williamson
Communications & Multi-Media Director Leah Farris Lowe
Parks & Recreation Director Marissa Knoebel
Assistant to the Mayor Jenny Works
Building Commissioner Mike Hughes
Wastewater Director Mike Perry
Director of Sanitation & Animal Control Lee Slaughter
Street and Drainage Superintendent Albert (Tubby) Purcell

“I’ve worked with our transition team to assemble a qualified administrative team that shares the goal of moving our city forward by keeping Charlestown first. I look forward to collaborating with team members to serve the residents of our community in this time of growth,” Hodges said.

“Applicants who reached out were extremely qualified; I truly wish we had a place for many of them and it’s a sincere compliment to have had so many folks express an interest in being a part of our new administration,” she continued. “It’s hard to turn people away, and some of them were avid political supporters or people I consider friends. That was and remains tough. These are hard decisions to make, but in the end – I trusted the judgement of my transition team to help guide me through a very difficult decision-making process.”

Positions that will not be filled immediately include the Director of Economic Development, School Liaison, Director of Sports (Parks Department), and a Receptionist position in the Mayor’s Office. Hodges said she has opted at first for a lean, but highly skilled and versatile staff while she works to assess the need for other positions.  

Hodges also stated that she intends to continue contracting with the Wheatley Group for Economic Development consulting. She plans to meet with other employees, contractors, and vendors in the weeks ahead to discuss current arrangements and make plans for moving forward. Much of this, she said – is contingent upon her ability to get into office and roll up her sleeves.

 “We’ve been working toward this transition under the assumption that January 1st will be the start of a new administration, unfortunately for a month or better after Election Day, things were left uncertain due to recount and contest issues. It delayed things communication wise, but that’s always a part of the process that should be expected as a possibility.” Hodges said. “We’re hoping we can work with the outgoing administration in the final days to make this transition flow as smoothly as possible.”

Leah Farris Lowe, who will serve as Hodges’ incoming Communications Director, acknowledged the transition process as a potentially bumpy one given the political climate.

“This election was a dogfight for both sides, it came down to a handful of votes,” she said. “It’s a call for some change, respectfully. We all wish Mayor Hall and his outgoing staff the very best, and we hope they’ll be agreeable to a smooth transition. With a political changeover of this nature, it’s normal for any policy-driving positions – such as department heads or key administrative positions – to be named anew by an incoming administration,” Farris-Lowe continued.

“These are all political appointments, albeit in this case based on experience and education, that serve at the pleasure of the Mayor and work to implement the Mayor’s policies,” she said. “While it’s hard to see change sometimes in a community as small as ours, I think any Mayor – incoming or outgoing – would agree that it’s important to surround yourself with a qualified staff that supports your vision. Treva is certainly bringing on some experience and won’t be starting out on training wheels in any sense.”

Biographies of each appointee are available here: Appointee Profiles

Mayor-Elect Hodges invites the community to meet her staff at her local swearing-in ceremony and reception on Saturday, January 4th 2020, from 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. at the Charlestown Arts and Enrichment Center located at 999 Water Street in Charlestown, IN. No RSVP is required, but a Facebook event link can be found here: Meet Mayor Hodges Event Link

                       

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MAYOR-ELECT TREVA HODGES TO NAME CHIEF OF POLICE AT PRESS CONFERENCE ON MONDAY, DECEMBER 16TH 2019

WHAT: Hodges will hold a press conference on Monday to recognize current Chief Keith McDonald for his service, and name her intended appointment to the position of Chief as she prepares to take office on January 1st, 2020. An announcement regarding the Assistant Chief of Police position is also expected on Monday.

WHO: Mayor-Elect Treva Hodges, Chief of Police Keith McDonald, Major Tim Wolff, and Captain Brion Gilbert will be in attendance.

WHEN: Monday, December 16th 2019, 4:00 p.m. EST

LOCATION: Charlestown Police Department Media Room (1st Floor), 703 Main Street, Charlestown, IN. 47111

 

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 CHARLESTOWN, Ind. – Thursday, December 12th 2019 –  Yesterday, Mayor-Elect Treva Hodges responded to the petition for election contest filed by Bob Hall. Hall’s petition asks the court to throw out the election results of November 5th and for the court to order a special election. His petition was based upon allegations that the election results could not be trusted. Because this is such an extreme remedy, Indiana law requires strict adherence to the statutory requirements for an election contest. Due to the deficiencies in Hall’s petition, Mayor-Elect Hodges has asked the court to dismiss the election contest and proceed with the recount, which Hall also requested.

“I have no objection to Mr. Hall’s request to conduct a recount in our election, which is a right provided to any candidate for public office in the State of Indiana,” Hodges stated. “I am confident that the recount will confirm the ultimate will of the voters from Election Day and I am prepared to take office on January 1.”

“In contrast,” she added, “the election contest petition has no factual basis or merit.  It relies on gossip and innuendo.  We are fortunate that this election was conducted in a fair, accurate, and professional manner, and nothing in the election contest petition calls that into question.  After consulting with legal counsel and with a firm belief that nothing untoward occurred on Election Day, we have determined that we will hold Mr. Hall to the standards created by Indiana law, and request that the contest be dismissed due to his failure to meet those standards.”

Please find attached the filings as well as a memorandum.

Motion to Dismiss

Memorandum

Exhibit A  | Exhibit B  |  Exhibit C

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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With two council meetings remaining in 2019 before a new council and a new mayor are seated, Mayor Bob Hall and the current city council are introducing an ordinance to create a Sanitary Sewer Board without any input from the Mayor-Elect. While the Mayor will sit on this new board, the council will have full control of the future of Charlestown’s Sewer Utility by giving themselves the power to appoint the other two board members. This is the same council that voted yes to selling Charlestown’s water utility to a private company after circumventing the citizens’ petition for a vote on the sale. The ramifications of this action to the ratepayers of Charlestown are huge. Here is what is at stake for current sewer ratepayers:

  • Sewer rates would be controlled by a City Council appointed engineer and another City Council appointee.* (This means that the council can, if they desire, appoint Bob Hall to this new board for a three-year term.) EDIT: I have spoken to council member Brian Hester who is sponsoring this ordinance and he assured me that, although technically allowed, the intention is not to appoint outgoing mayor Bob Hall to this board.
  • The ordinance allows the appointees to be paid $1,000 a month for attending board meetings. Currently, Board of Public Works members who oversee the sewer system are unpaid.
  • The ratepayers will also foot the bill for additional engineers and attorneys hired by the new Board. This alone could cost ratepayers hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.
  • This action has the potential to set up a sale of the utility to a private company, mirroring what was done with the water utility.

The vote is scheduled to take place Monday night, December 2 at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall during the regular council meeting.

As Mayor-Elect, I have expressed my opposition to the timing of this ordinance to current council members. If the mayor is to sit on a newly created board, then the mayor who will hold that seat should have a voice in the board’s creation.

How well the city council works with the mayor will determine how quickly and effectively the inequalities and problems of Charlestown’s past are addressed. On November 5th the voters placed their confidence in a new mayor and in a new council to accomplish these goals. I am eager to work in partnership with the new council to help bring positive change and healthy growth to our community. The vote Monday night will determine if we are to have a collaborative and effective local government, or if we will start our new year and new administration with a destructive partisan divide.

If you are opposed to current elected officials taking the control of your utility out of the newly elected mayor’s hands, your attendance at this meeting is required. In keeping with my commitment to transparency, I have included the draft of the ordinance for you to review here: ORD 17.

I urge you to contact your current council members to ask them to vote NO on this ordinance.

If the creation of a sewer board is a good idea, then there is no reason why it cannot wait until January and include the involvement of the council and mayor the people have elected to serve for the next four years, and with the input of the citizens we serve. There simply is no logical reason to rush this vote. 

Unfortunately, the current public comment procedure prohibits any citizens from speaking about this ordinance at Monday night’s meeting. I invite all concerned citizens to arrive for this meeting at 6:00 PM to gather peacefully in opposition of any radical change to our government structure that would impede our ability to move Charlestown forward.


* While the City Council ultimately sets rates with a separate ordinance, they must do so to cover the expenses and operating costs of the Sewer Board. This removes an important check between the Executive and Legislative branches by giving total control to the Council.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Charlestown Mayor-Elect Treva Hodges Names Transition Advisory Team

CHARLESTOWN, Ind. – Thursday, November 21, 2019 – Charlestown Mayor-Elect Dr. Treva Hodges announced today that she has formally finalized her three-member transition advisory team. Jim James, Jim Adams, and Donna Ennis will work with Hodges as she prepares to take office on January 1st.

Hodges states that she plans to move forward with the transition process notwithstanding Mayor Hall’s petition this week for a recount and contest of the November 5th, 2019 election results. Hodges’ transition team members will serve on a volunteer basis.

“I do not anticipate that a recount will change the outcome of the election and am moving forward in good faith to prepare to take office and hit the ground running,” Hodges said today. “My transition advisory team brings together a small group of civic-minded individuals with diverse backgrounds and strengths.”

Hodges’ team hopes to be able to meet and work cooperatively with the current administration and its department heads in an effort to ensure a smooth and productive transition process.

Jim Adams is a financial advisor and partner with Edward Jones Investments. Jim began his career with Edward Jones in 1999 after attending Indiana University Southeast and works with 365 families and manages 100 million+ in client assets. In addition, Adams is a partner with National Builders and Developers in Charlestown. National Builders owns, manages and develops multifamily and retail properties.

Jim James is a long-time resident of Charlestown, having been born in the city and a resident for over 60 years. He was a founding member of the Charlestown Christian Church and has served on various local boards such as the New Hope School and Charlestown Township Public Library. James was employed for 38 years with the Courier-Journal, beginning as an apprentice while still in high school and spending 19 years as a printer before holding various management positions, retiring as Director of Pre-Press and Transportation.

Donna Ennis currently serves as Senior Operations Superintendent for Indiana American Water. She has previously served as Director of Operations for Midwest Environmental Management Services, and is a graduate of Indiana University in Bloomington. Ennis has been actively involved in the community for over 25 years and has served on various local boards such as Charlestown Economic Development Commission, Clark County Election Board, the Charlestown Beautification Committee, the Charlestown Bicentennial Committee, and the North Clark Hospital Foundation Board.

Individuals who are interested in working with the Mayor-Elect’s administration should send a letter of interest that highlights the skills they want to use in the position and gives salary expectations, along with a resume. All identifying information will be removed from the documents and the transition team members will rank all the applicants based on skill and experience. After the anonymous ranking, a first round of personal interviews will be scheduled for qualified applicants. Current department heads interested in serving as holdovers are also encouraged to apply.

All letters and resumes should be sent to TrevaForMayor@gmail.com by Friday, December 6th.

Infrastructure repairs have been a significant part of my platform from the beginning. Here’s why…

Our wastewater treatment system is in a serious state of neglect and we will not see long-term healthy development in Charlestown until our infrastructure is repaired. 

When you drive through the city today it’s easy to see where our money has been spent. We have freshly paved roads, new playgrounds, and fancy street signs. But what lies underneath our city streets? 

In January, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) performed an inspection of our wastewater system and found it to be in “unsatisfactory” condition.

Among their concerns were…

  • solid waste and trash being dumped directly into our lagoons
  • malfunctioning mechanical equipment that manages inflow and infiltration within the collection system
  • improper sludge disposal – including the dumping of raw sludge directly into stormwater lines in the Pleasant Ridge Neighborhood in August of 2018
  • violations in the self monitoring program
  • presence of a thick black grease pollutant covering the Spring Street lift station 
Flooding caused by clogged stormwater line
Flooding at Main and Harrison

 

In addition to our wastewater system, our stormwater drainage system has also been neglected. The system is clogged so badly that flooding occurs in locations all over our city with even the lightest rains.

Broken stormwater drain completely clogged
Clogged Drain Line at Main and Harrison

Repairs are complicated by the fact that the existing map of the system is outdated – a problem for IAW when they were installing new fire hydrants as they ruptured stormwater lines digging in areas where they were not mapped.

 

Does all this sound familiar? It should. I’ve previously shown how current mayor Bob Hall’s neglect of our water system enabled him to declare the system “distressed” and pass off the responsibility for repairs to a private company. We had the money to repair our water system all along but our current administration chose to spend it on wants, not needs. Now customers are left paying much higher rates for Bob Hall’s poor decision making. 

What happens if Bob Hall declares our wastewater system “distressed” and decides to sell it to IAW as well?

IAW currently owns a few wastewater/sewer systems in Indiana. Here is a screen shot of their rates. 

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As you can see, an average household that uses 3,500 gallons of water would pay over $50.00 per month with the new rate and the meter fee. A customer on Charlestown’s system currently only pays $31.00 for that same usage. Customers who use 5,000 gallons will pay nearly $70.00 per month. How many of us can afford this increase on top of what we’re paying for our water now?

It’s time for Charlestown residents to stop paying for the bad decisions of our current administration. This election is about change for Charlestown. It’s about electing a mayor who will put Charlestown First and focus on our needs rather than just making things look better on the surface. 

Your vote is your voice. Vote Treva for mayor and put our priorities back on YOU!


Read the official inspection documents here:

IDEM WW Inspection Jan 2019

IDEM Inspection PR Aug 2018

Paid for by the Committee to Elect Treva Hodges

Charlestown cannot afford four more years of Bob Hall’s decision making style.


Our current abuse of Tax Increment Financing hurts our schools and increases the likelihood of Greater Clark School Corporation having to ask for a special tax referendum to meet their budget.

Superintendent Mark Laughner said in recent public budget meetings that the school system loses a “significant” amount of money due to the abuse of TIF. Unlike other local cities, Charlestown refuses to allow 15% of our TIF revenue to go back to the school system. To compensate for their budget shortfalls, GCCS raised their tax rate last year (from .8536 to 1.136). Who is paying for Bob Hall’s abusive use of TIF? You, the property owners.

Bob Hall’s plan for redevelopment in Charlestown is costing us millions of dollars and we’ve seen no return on our investment.

We’ve assumed $2.5 million of debt to fund John Neace’s Springville Manor housing community, which is not filling according to expectations. We spent $2 million on an apartment project for a private development company which included selling them $1 million of land for $1. We’ve agreed to over $2 million of TIF debt for a hospital that hasn’t opened yet. These investments have so far only improved the economic situation of private developers and have not created jobs for Charlestown residents.

Bob Hall’s redevelopment strategy has damaged the city’s reputation and wasted taxpayers’ money by embroiling us in three major lawsuits.

Lawsuits related to Mayor Hall’s redevelopment of Pleasant Ridge have attracted negative media attention to Charlestown. To summarize the cases…

  • The Pleasant Ridge Neighborhood Association has sued the mayor and other city officials on his team in Clark County Circuit Court for alleged civil rights and constitutional violations. This trial is scheduled to begin November 12th and the judge has previously ruled that the association will likely win on the majority of their claims. The plaintiffs ask only that they be allowed to keep their homes and are not looking for monetary awards.

  • Some of the former Pleasant Ridge Landlords have sued the mayor and members of his team in the US District Court for alleged civil rights and constitutional violations in addition to civil charges for racketeering and extortion. Settlement negotiations have failed and trial is set for 2020. Although the judge initially dismissed charges of racketeering, she reinstated the allegations when the plaintiffs demonstrated that a pattern of extortion exists. If the landlords win, they could be entitled to triple amount of their awarded damages.
  • US Specialty Insurance Company, who provides coverage for the city’s legal fees, has sued the mayor and members of his team named in the other two lawsuits in US District Court. The company has asked a judge to declare that they do not have to pay the legal bills associated with the Pleasant Ridge cases because they allege the city is in breach of contract due to city officials’ adverse use of building code enforcement. This matter is set to be resolved next year.

As of today, the city has spent $1,181,836 on legal fees to defend Bob Hall’s redevelopment decisions.

None of these cases will be resolved before the election. It’s significant that the city’s insurance company has sued seeking to be excused from paying because they believe Bob Hall and his team have acted outside the scope of their appointment. If the insurance company wins, Indiana code (IC 34-13-4-1) allows the city council to decide who should pay. Taxpayers should not foot the bill for Bob Hall’s bad decisions.

We need to evaluate our use of TIF so we aren’t hurting schools. We need to spend taxpayer money on projects that benefit citizens.

We cannot afford four more years of costly development plans. This year elect a mayor who wants to keep Charlestown First.

I ask for your vote on November 5th.  

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