By NATALIE MILLER
As a few Ashland planning commission and a town council member say goodbye to their positions, three new, familiar names will take their places.
Vice Mayor James Murray will be replaced by longtime Hanover County employee John Hodges. Murray is leaving Ashland after serving about three years on town council to study law at Duke University.
As the former deputy county administrator for community development, Hodges is bringing 30 years of county planning experience to his new role on Town Council.
Hodges has a master’s degree in planning and started working with the county in the 1980s. He was hired as the county’s first project manager for growth management, then served as the director of planning from 1982 through 1998.
Hodges was then the county’s deputy county administrator for community development until he retired Dec. 31, 2010.
“This Council has made a lot of wise decisions and demonstrated their best interest in the town,” Hodges said. “They’re good people and it’s a privilege to serve with them.”
“My primary goal is to try to address the issue of the high-speed rail,” Hodges continued. “I will try to represent the town as much as possible.”
Lynda Wright has been appointed to replace Felix Stevens on the planning commission. Stevens has been serving on the planning commission while also completing his duties as the Town’s finance director. Stevens is leaving the planning commission to focus on his finance director role.
Wright moved to Ashland in 2005 to work at Randolph-Macon College. She is currently the supervisor of technology services at R-MC’s McGraw-Page Library.
After participating in Town discussions about proposed developments near her home on Chapman Street, Wright became even more involved in Town planning.
“That process was amazing, and seeing how a few people can make a difference,” Wright said.
She participated in the citizen leadership academy, which prepares participants to take on leadership roles in the community.
“I would like to support the vision for the Town,” Wright said.
Hanover County senior teacher Scott Rowe has been appointed to fill Robert Brown’s seat on the planning commission. Brown has served on the commission for several years, and will be stepping down when his term expires this month.
Rowe is a senior teacher at Stone Wall Jackson Middle School, teaching two reading classes and working alongside the school’s principal and assistant principals.
Rowe and his wife participated in the citizen leadership academy before he decided to apply for the open planning commission position.
“So many people focus on the state and national stuff they forget about the stuff that’s right in their backyard,” Rowe said.
His time as a civics teacher before moving to Ashland inspired him to look into local government positions.
“It’s always been one of my interests and passions to participate in local government,” Rowe said.
Each new commissioner is trained for their new positions before officially taking their seats. The current planning commissioners’ terms end June 30.