Mayor Hodges’ vision becomes reality
Washington’s late mayor, Mac Hodges, was having lunch with his family in downtown New Bern when an idea popped into his head. Four years later, city officials cut the ribbon on a newly redesigned three block stretch of Main Street.
“We were all walking around down there one day in 2016 and he said, “why can’t we do this in Washington?” recalled daughter Beth Fickling. “He thought about it from that day on and worked with the other city officials on every phase of it. He would be very pleased.”
Hodges combined features from New Bern and Goldsboro and helped the city staff add special touches to make the Washington streetscape unique. Hodges died of COVID-19 in mid-August as the project was over halfway complete.
“We’d come over to the house for dinner and he’s always want me to walk around downtown with him afterward just to see what was new,” said daughter Sara Bell. “We’d walk up and down both sides and he would point out the progress since I had seen it last. He didn’t miss much.”
City officials honored the mayor’s legacy with a ribbon-cutting ceremony that ended with the family taking the first ride down the new road in Hodges’ distinctive purple and gold van. Hodges sold the vehicle earlier this year, but the buyer let the family use it for the special occasion.
“It was very touching and a mixture of happy and sad,” said Lou Hodges, Mac’s wife. “We appreciate what the city has done to honor Mac’s memory. I know he is looking down and is very happy with the way it turned out. He’s probably not too far up, because he was kind of scared of heights.”