Hodgdon honored for giving his skills to Talent

TALENT — Graphic artist Ron Hodgdon was honored for his nearly quarter-century of volunteer service to the city with the Mayor's Citizen of the Year award Wednesday.

Hodgdon was praised for his service to city committees, the Boys and Girls Club, Chamber of Commerce, Harvest Festival and other groups in a ceremony at the Community Center, where Mayor Bill Cecil presented the award.

The work Hodgdon does is "always for the betterment of the city," said Cecil.

"He's a busy fellow but still always seems to find the time to do what needs to be done," said Ron Ridgway, former chamber president and recipient of the award last year.

Talent Urban Renewal Director Marla Cates said Hodgdon has helped many groups with signage, including donation of old town signs and graphics for the Talent Enhancement Month that started in 1990.

"Ron is always saying, 'What can I do to help?' " said Cates. "He's the consummate gentleman and always positive and optimistic, which is a wonderful quality to have in community service."

Hodgdon relocated to Talent from Chicago in 1989, leaving a graphic arts position where he supervised seven workers. He immediately became involved in community efforts when a large-scale logging operation began adjacent to his 20-acre homesite on Wagner Creek. He got neighbors involved and slowed down the cut as much as possible, he said.

When Ridgway and Livia Genise of Camelot Theatre were pushing the chamber in a more formal direction, Hodgdon volunteered to create an identity package.

"They really didn't have an identity," said Hodgdon. "I love doing that kind of work. It was an easy thing for me to get involved with."

Hodgdon's expertise at branding has helped set a direction for the city, said Ridgway. "I think he brings a lot of professionalism to the table. He's got an artist's eye, so he is very creative."

Hodgdon served on the chamber board for eight years, then took six months off before becoming vice president late last year.

A Phoenix-Talent School District communication committee also benefited from Hodgdon's expertise and services. He created new graphics that debuted this fall on the district's website.

A member of the city's Public Art Advisory Committee, he and others revitalized the group three years ago as they worked to get murals approved. The group has also established regular art shows in the City Hall lobby, securing better lighting, a hanging system and display cases.

Hodgdon has volunteered his expertise for the Harvest Festival for 15 years. He donates signage and art for auctions to the Boys and Girls Club of Talent, and he does promotional art work for the Talent Art and Music Festival evenings, held four times per year.

In the early 1990s, he served on the city Architectural Review Board and the predecessor of the Together for Talent Committee.

Although he lives outside of town, he regards Talent as his home. He and his wife, Jessie, have rentals and family members who live in the city. His children went to Talent Middle School and Phoenix High School.

When he moved from Chicago, Hodgdon realized there was greater access to government and more opportunities to serve.

"I could walk right in and get involved with the mayor," said Hodgdon. "It's much easier to make a difference."

Cecil inaugurated the award two years ago. A three-member committee considers nominations submitted by the community and recommends a recipient to the mayor.

Tony Boom is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach him at tboomwriter@gmail.com.

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