2011-11-09 / News

AHS Grad Hodges To Head Turnpike

by David Pugh
Buckeye Staff Writer


Rick Hodges Rick Hodges Rick Hodges, a 1982 Archbold High School graduate and former state representative for Northwest Ohio, has been named the executive director of the Ohio Turnpike Commission.

The commission voted Wednesday, Nov. 2, to name Hodges to the post. He started his new job Monday.

He takes the helm during a time when John Kasich, Ohio governor, has proposed leasing the turnpike to a private business, which would then operate the 241-mile toll road as a for-profit business.

Revenue from the lease would be used for infrastructure projects throughout Ohio, but Kasich has promised a majority of the money will be spent in northern Ohio.

Hodges said it’s premature to say what should happen to the turnpike.

“We have to keep an open mind,” he said.

“The turnpike is an important economic asset, and we are in the midst of very challenging economic times.”

The state needs to make infrastructure improvements and explore every option for raising the money to make those improvements.

“The community conversation (about the future of the turnpike) will be going on for the next six months or so,” Hodges said.

Currently, consultants are preparing reports on the feasibility of privatizing of the turnpike.

“Then we need to get out into the communities and hear their ideas. Hopefully, we can come up with a position we can support,” he said.

In the meantime, Hodges said his goals are to make sure the turnpike is a good neighbor to neighboring communities, to guide the turnpike through the challenges of the future, and during the challenging economic times, operate the toll road as lean as possible.

State Rep

Hodges served as a state representative from 1993 to 1999.

In the early 1990s, the turnpike commission voted to drastically raise tolls.

As a result of the ensuing political backlash, Hodges was the first state representative appointed as an exoffi cio (non-voting) member of the turnpike commission. He served in the post from 1995 to 1998.

Hodges left the statehouse in 2000 to become executive vice president of the Mechanical Contractors Association of Northwest Ohio.

In 2005, he moved to Tucson, Ariz., where he was chief executive officer of the Tucson Association of Realtors.

He left that post for Milwaukee, Wis., to head its Metro Building Association.

He then returned to Ohio, where he started working for the Ohio Department of Commerce in the spring. He moved over to the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation to become director of legislative development and operational reform in May.

At BWC, he worked under former Delta resident Steve Buehrer.

“Steve’s doing a great job. It’s been fun working for him,” Hodges said.

The opening at the turnpike commission came up during a conversation with an Ohio Department of Transportation employee, he said.

Day-To-Day

As the executive director of the Ohio Turnpike Commission, Hodges will be responsible for managing the day-to-day business operations of the toll road.

Jerry Hruby, chairman of the commission, said, “It’s exciting to have Rick Hodges join us as the executive director of the Ohio Turnpike Commission.

“His extensive knowledge of the turnpike as a former commission member and regular turnpike customer will serve Ohioans well.

“He possesses vast business and legislative experience as a former state representative from Northwest Ohio, and he understands how important the turnpike is to Ohio’s economy and the customers it serves.”

After High School

After high school, Hodges attended Oberlin College for a bachelor’s degree, graduating in 1986. He earned a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Toledo in 1992.

He served as Fulton County treasurer for five years.

He and his wife, Susan, married in 1987. Today, they and their two children, Kit, 16, and Caleb, 11, reside in Hilliard.

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