The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Lifestyle

March 4, 2013

Retired executive works to improve rural Alabama

(Continued)

It's unlikely that will ever happen until funds are found to do more than build scenic overheads or boat ramps, according to Hodo, who knows of what he speaks.

"Tourism could be a major industry for the Black Belt, but we'll never be able to promote it unless infrastructure changes are made," he said. "City folks come out here and they don't see signs, paved parking lots, bathrooms and other necessities. That's not fun for families."

Former Dallas County Probate Judge Johnny Jones can empathize with Hodo and his frustrations, but he'd rather praise the east Alabamian who has made west Alabama his home.

"He's become an adopted son in Dallas County," Jones said. "Jim likes to work behind the scenes and has done a lot for us. He is totally involved."

Wayne Vardaman, executive director of the local economic development authority, feels the same way about Hodo, calling him "a man of high character and values."

"I plan on trying to get him involved in the EDA during his retirement," said Vardaman, who knows that won't be hard because Hodo already served as the authority's president for two years.

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