New Fremont Township highway boss in exclusive company

  • Alicia Dodd has been appointed Fremont Township highway commissioner to fill the unexpired term of Bill Grinnell, who retired effective last weekend.

    Alicia Dodd has been appointed Fremont Township highway commissioner to fill the unexpired term of Bill Grinnell, who retired effective last weekend. Mick Zawislak/mzawislak@dailyherld.com

  • New Fremont Township Highway Commissioner Alicia Dodd checks a catch basin in the Sylvan Lake neighborhood.

    New Fremont Township Highway Commissioner Alicia Dodd checks a catch basin in the Sylvan Lake neighborhood. Mick Zawislak/mzawislak@dailyherld.com

  • New Fremont Township Highway Commissioner Alicia Dodd checks a catch basin in the Sylvan Lake neighborhood. Dodd was appointed recently to fill the unexpired term of Bill Grinnell, who retired after 31 years.

    New Fremont Township Highway Commissioner Alicia Dodd checks a catch basin in the Sylvan Lake neighborhood. Dodd was appointed recently to fill the unexpired term of Bill Grinnell, who retired after 31 years. Mick Zawislak/mzawislak@dailyherld.com

 
 
Posted12/20/2019 5:34 AM

Fremont Township's new highway commissioner is used to hands-on work with a big-picture view.

Those who have encountered Alicia Dodd in various capacities say she has an unparalleled work ethic and near magical propensity of envisioning and completing whatever task is at hand.

 

"She's the real deal," said Fremont Township Supervisor Diana O'Kelly. "She's the hardest-working person I have ever met. She has an endless amount of energy and is extremely intelligent."

A former airline pilot and training director, Dodd, 44, recently was appointed by the township board to fill the unexpired term of Bill Grinnell, who retired. Dodd started Monday and will serve until April 2021, when she'll have to run for reelection to keep the job, which has a 4-year term. The annual salary is $80,000.

Dodd is one of only five female highway commissioners in the 1,398 township road districts statewide.

The Indiana native moved to Fremont Township 13 years ago. In recent years, she has become well-known to township officials and residents basically for taking on whatever projects needed to be done.

In 2013, Dodd answered a Facebook notice for volunteers to help weed a small patch outside the township office on Route 60 near Fremont Center Road. She has spent countless hours transforming the land into a bountiful source of fresh items for the township food pantry. The parcel also is outdoor classroom and conservation center for students, Scouts and other groups.

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An advocate of environmental protection, Dodd's role grew after securing funding to replace 1.25 acres of turf near the community garden with native plants.

She was hired by the township as a project manager at $25 per hour. Her expanded duties included various aspects of highway operations, such as maintaining natural areas, tree trimming, and patching.

"I've been working with the highway department a good year and a half," Dodd said, adding the various tasks have helped prepare her for the new job.

She also did her homework before deciding to apply for the job.

"I don't like surprises," she said. "I spent considerable time looking over the duties and responsibilities, the struggles and challenges going forward because I didn't want to get blown away."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Besides plowing and maintaining about 45 miles of roads and bridges, the highway department is responsible for culverts, catch basins and other aspects of stormwater management.

Doing more electronically, improving the geographic information system, setting priorities and making operations more efficient and transparent are on Dodd's to-do list. But it will be a collaborative effort with staff, she said.

"I really want to know what they think is important," she said. "I want to know what you think in case I miss something."

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