‘Ought to be doing something’

Published 1:00 pm Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Since he was 12 years old, Thomas Franklin Dodd worked “a man’s job.” He worked on his father’s farm, running the combine amid the rows. Within two years, he was also driving truckloads of products like chicken and eggs to Richmond at age 14.

Now 87, Dodd, no longer in the farming business, balances his responsibilities as mayor of Phenix and maintaining the town’s waterworks.

“I’ve never been content with nothing to do. I don’t think God intended for us to have an easy job. We ought to be doing something, unless we’re not able,” said the mayor.

Each morning, he wakes up at 6 a.m., and for the past three years since his wife, Bernice Paulette Dodd, died, he’s made his own breakfast before heading out to the water facility and, from there, taking on the rest of his day-to-day duties.

When he has free time, Dodd makes a point to relax.

“I try to force myself to sit down and relax for an hour a day, and sometimes, I fall asleep in that hour,” said Dodd, chuckling. “Of course, I don’t do that if there’s work to be done.”

While the mayor watches television to unwind, he said he prefers books. “I read a lot,” said Dodd.

Many of his books focus on healthy living and learning about various herbs with different medicinal properties.

Dodd is temporarily using a cane for a sore knee — he said it comes with age — accompanied by a few herbs he has read about.

“My son would say I’m a health nut,” said Dodd, a father of four children. Starting in his 50s, Dodd said he wanted to live a healthier lifestyle. Reading about the subject took hold after his daughter sent him a Navy book to help with his goal, and he continued to explore more authors from there. Dodd lost 50 pounds and has kept the weight off since.

“You can set goals for yourself, but you’ve got to live up to them,” he said.

Dodd joined the government world in 2002 as a member of the Phenix Town Council, and along the way to becoming mayor in 2008, he began to take care of the water system.

“It’s important. Without the waterworks there would be no water,” said Dodd.

One of his main projects for the town revolves around a $3 million plan to replace the old pipes, drawing from $2 million through outside sources, like grants, then borrowing $1 million. According to Dodd, the pipes haven’t been replaced since 1960, and the quality of the pipe material and water system structure is not where the mayor would like it to be.

“We want to get our water system in better shape, because back in the 50s, when they put it in here, they didn’t have a panel that knew about plumbing. A lot of errors were made,” said

Dodd gained experience as his own plumber since learning the business from his cousin as a teenager. “But we learn from our mistakes — all of us do.”

Dodd has lived in the area his whole life, either working his father’s farm or his own, running a farm supply business after graduating from Randolph-Henry or selling insurance.