RBCEP remains open

At the Hodges Equestrian Park, things are going to go on just like they have been, according to Hodges Mayor Terry Petree.

Of course, there are the undeniable, irreversible changes – the loss of access to Rock Bridge Canyon, the loss of Mike Franklin as director, and the controversy and bad feelings that have abounded in the past month. But Petree said he is focused on setting the past aside and moving forward. “I feel like we have to be positive toward what we’ve got. That’s all you can do, is be positive, and we’ll just have to see how it goes.

“Our trail, right now I feel good about it,” added Petree, who has employed some assistance to get permission to allow visitors to cross landowners’ property and utilize other locations in developing a system of trails campers and horse enthusiasts can still access, without entering the canyon.

Petree said the town is committed to hauling horses from the campground to trailheads when necessary. Hodges has gotten permission to start at Atwood and ride the lower end of the trails as far the Averys’ property. Horse enthusiasts can also ride Scott’s land and ride up and down the railroad track to Atwood. “We aren’t where we can’t do nothing,” Petree said. “We’re just in one spot of being in a bind.”

According to Petree, the town is preparing to move forward with two recently-acquired grants: a $100K ADECA grant and an $80K TVA grant that will fund a certified builder, required environmental study, a top for the RBCEP arena and development of new trails that will connect to the lower end of the trails that are already in place.

At its Monday meeting, the town also approved the hiring of a new police chief, after accepting Mike Franklin’s resignation. Jeffrey McCraw will serve as police chief, and Petree said the hiring comes with the understanding the McCraw will not be paid unless and until the town acquires grant funding to pay him.

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