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Sixteen months ago, Hodgenville Main Street Director Rhonda Weidman arrived in town, greeted by a nearly empty office.
Her new digs were supplied with a couple of file boxes and a broken office chair. Her enthusiasm for the new job undimmed, she promptly brought in her own computer and furnished the space with a new chair and supplies.
“I understand non-profit,” said Weidman, a history major who has worked with several historic societies. “Whatever you spend on a chair could be used for the good of the community. I didn’t mind because it kept money for the cause.”
Weidman was hired to work 24 hours a week, but said she put in as many as 48, especially when she was working on a project such as Family Fun Day, the facade grants that transformed downtown businesses or essay contests with school children.
Her husband Mike pitched in by designing the Main Street Web site, at no cost to the community, and updating it.
She said the results have been worth it.
“Our downtown is beautiful – it very much has a Main Street look,” she said. “Other towns may have more shops or be bigger, but they don’t have the same appeal.”
Last week, Weidman resigned her post – still believing in the importance of Main Street’s role in the revitalization of downtown, but ready to start a new chapter in her life. Her last day is Thursday.
In her letter of resignation to the Main Street board, Weidman cited unresolved personality conflicts with Mayor Terry Cruse as part of her reason for leaving. The decision came on the heels of a heated meeting with Cruse and other executive board members last week.
Before that meeting, Cruse had informed Main Street president Larry Davis of a possible 25 percent reduction per month in the city’s contribution to Main Street. The city now provides $1,500 per month, instead of $2,000 to the group.
Cruse said a possible $225,000 shortfall by end of fiscal year led to several cuts in the city’s budget. Main Street was just one of them.
Main Street’s executive board held an emergency meeting Jan. 5 to discuss the cut. They may have violated the Open Meetings Act by not informing Cruse and the media 24 hours in advance. The meeting ended with Davis and Cruse apologizing to each other.
Cruse received a copy of Weidman’s resignation from another Main Street member. He admitted there had been some problems between his office and Main Street.
“It goes both ways,” he said.
“All I wanted from Main Street was for them to give the city equal billing for what goes on down there (the square),” he said, adding he felt Main Street did not always include the city on projects.
“I want us all to work together, but at the same time I want the city kept in the loop,” he said.
Cruse said he appreciates the job Weidman did while in Hodgenville and wishes her well.
Weidman said the monetary cut by the city did not affect her decision to leave.
Weidman does not have another job lined up, but hopes to land a similar position.
Overall, she will miss being a part of Hodgenville’s transformation during the Lincoln Bicentennial.
“Main Street’s been good to me and I think the program’s excellent,” she said. “You can just stand in the middle of the square and see that.”
“It wasn’t just a job, it was something I loved.”