HOFFMAN — Like students eager to please, Hoffman officials have been zooming ahead on the homework they hope will spark economic prosperity for their tiny town.
They’re thinking about luring business — perhaps a child-care center — by buffing the now-rough floors and, maybe, replacing the declining roof of the town recreation center. And they’re considering putting out some flowers, to brighten the outside.
Town commissioners also voted during their meeting Monday to work with the Lumber River Council of Governments to codify their ordinances and update their zoning maps — two things that will increase governmental efficiency and potentially make Hoffman more appealing to big-money grantors. (LRCOG works with towns in five counties, aiming to improve governmental efficiency and resultant growth.)
“We’re keeping our eyes open” for potential improvement, Mayor Tommy Hart said Wednesday.
“A light bulb came on” when consultants from the N.C. Department of Commerce visited last month, Hart said. “We’re saying, ‘Wow. This is really needed. These studies help see the future.”
Planners Bruce Naegelen and Jeff Emory of the N.C. Main Street & Rural Planning Center met with town officials and other interested parties on Feb. 13 and 14, brainstorming ideas and conducting community interviews.
Naegelen was scheduled to return with a formal presentation to commissioners last Monday but begged off, saying he needed an additional month to prepare. He will attend the April 2 meeting at 7 p.m., at Hoffman Town Hall.
“There’s not going to be any real suprises” in what he has to say then, Naegelen said Wednesday. “We’ll have a more detailed kind of market analysis of the town, an asset map (the town’s selling points) and talk about recommendations.”
But Naegelen or no, commissioners are putting their metaphorical shoulders to the wheel and getting their actual hands dirty — which is what can happen when you have a town of 600 with very few paid workers.
“(Commissioners) do whatever we’re able to do with our own hands … as far as getting down with the job,” Hart said.
Commissioner Rory Jones, also the town’s recreation director, has been stripping and polishing floors at the rec center. On Monday, he asked fellow commissioners whether he should shoot for rejuvenating the whole building or just a portion.
He also asked whether the town should take bids on a new roof, something Hart said would help rein in high utility bills during the summers.
Commissioner John Taylor has been riding the roads, looking for errant trash piles and potholes. After he finds them, he guides workers to the spots for pickup and repairs.
Hart doesn’t complain but says not all of this is easy for commissioners, some of whom are older — Taylor is in his 80s — and some, disabled. Commissioner Daniel Kelly, for example, sallied into the meeting Monday with a cane in his right hand.
On March 16, all of the commissioners will take up shovels to “break ground” for Hoffman’s new wastewater connections to Moore County. Even though a backhoe started the work Monday morning, the fancy ceremony with state and local representatives will mark the project’s official beginning.
And there’s more good news: Town Clerk Maggie Bethea reported to commissioners Monday that tax receipts so far this year had totaled more than $40,000. That’s more than $5,000 over what the town had budgeted, taking into consideration its history of difficult and tardy collections.
Reach Christine Carroll at 910-817-2673 or firstname.lastname@example.org.