Hexom reflects on his time as Madison's mayor
By CHUCK CLEMENT, Staff Reporter
Looking back on his seven years serving as Madison's mayor,|
Gene Hexom can find progress and accomplishments that will
continue to serve the community into the future.
Madison had shouldered through the worst economic downturn
since the Great Depression. Recent years have seen a local
slowdown in business and industry, but the city worked
through the recession and avoided the economic damage that
occurred in other parts of the nation.
"We have had our ups and downs over the past seven years but
despite the difficulties, there are many things that we can
all look forward to," Hexom said. "Looking at the big
picture, I think we're moving in the right direction."
Hexom listed some of the developments that have occurred,
are underway, or are soon in coming to the city. The city
had installed a new outdoor swimming pool that replaced a
facility that had met the end of its useful life and also
renovated the municipal wastewater treatment plant.
Construction crews are currently making renovations and
additions to Madison High School. Global Polymer officials
are building a new manufacturing plant in the Lakeview
For the future, the city has the construction of a new water
storage structure and renovations to its water treatment
plant on the horizon. Madison Community Hospital will move
to a new location on the south side of the city.
"The building of that new hospital -- I believe that will be
the biggest construction project in the history of Madison,"
Hexom added that several other enterprises had decided to
remain in Madison even though other cities would have
happily welcomed them into their communities. East River
Electric Power Cooperative added onto its Madison
headquarters and made major renovations to its other
facilities. Heartland Consumers Power District moved to a
new headquarters in the Lakeview Industrial Park. Inter-Lake
Community Action Partnership is currently constructing a new
Head Start facility in downtown Madison.
"I know that we have our critics who are concerned about our
current debt load, but we are paying a good portion of it
off each year," Hexom said. "And much of it was borrowed
with very low interest rates."
"We could have put off doing these things, but how much
would it have cost us in the future with inflation and
higher interest rates?"
Hexom noted that officials with the Lewis & Clark Regional
Water Project are looking at options for financing the
construction of the water pipeline, instead of waiting for
the federal government to act. The water pipeline project
still needs to connect Madison and about half of its members
to the system so the communities can receive Missouri River
"They're planning to talk to each of their members soon and
provide several options," Hexom said.
In speaking about the municipal employees who work to keep
Madison in operating order, Hexom said that he had held jobs
in both the public and private sectors and they had
impressed him. Hexom said the city's employees were
continually willing to put their best efforts forward.
"Our employees do a fine job, and there's not a lot of
turnover among the group which says something," Hexom said.
"I just can't praise their work enough."
One project that Hexom said would always hold a special
meaning to him involved the creation of the Gerry Maloney
Nature Area on the north side of Madison.
For years, John Maloney had wanted to set aside a few acres
of wildlife habitat for a nature area, because his late wife
Gerry had possessed a passion for the outdoors.
John Maloney was able to donate about nine acres of
undeveloped land near N.E. 9th St. to Madison to start the
project. However, the land's development into a nature area
that could also accommodate visitors languished due to a
lack of funds.
Maloney wanted to see before his death the development of
the area which included the installation of a creek bridge
and the establishment of a wildlife-supporting pond. He
contacted Hexom with an original contribution of $10,000 to
fund the area's development and that amount later rose to
Hexom credited Ted LaFleur, the city parks foreman, for
having the dedication to fashion the acreage into a wildlife
habitat that people could visit.
"And before John died, we were able to have the grand
opening and dedicate the nature area to the memory of his
wife," Hexom said.
According to Hexom, the funds that the Maloneys eventually
gave to Madison totaled about $350,000. The balance of the
donation currently sits in an interest-bearing account.
"That's enough money to take care of the nature area without
having a financial burden to the city," Hexom said. "I don't
think that there are many other gifts to the city of Madison
that are quite that size."
Hexom said that he and his wife Marilyn plan to continue
living in Madison and he expects to have more time for
hobbies. He has an interest in antique collecting and
history, especially local history. Hexom said those personal interests could lead him to area museums such as the Smith-Zimmerman Museum in Madison.
However, his interests aren't only fixed on the past. Hexom
also has a desire to take a seat in the new Madison High
School gym after construction is completed to watch athletic events and other activities.
Hexom said he was confident in Roy Lindsay's ability to
serve as Madison's next mayor. He and Lindsay have already
met for several hours to discuss current issues that the
city faces, and they plan to have another meeting before
Lindsay is sworn in on Monday.
Hexom added that the city has a good group serving on the
city commission, a new president of Dakota State University,
and "many other new people stepping forward."
"I think we've got the right people in the right places,"