Local News: Town of Hardy named Purple Heart City by the State of Arkansas (4/13/22)

Pictured, left to right, is Councilor Hardy Sue Taylor, along with veterans attending the city council meeting, including Councilor Phillip Horrell, Mayor Ernie Rose, Councilor Tony Berry and Charles Wilson. The State of Arkansas has designated the town of Hardy as a purple heart town honoring all those who served in military combat and their families.

Photo/ Pierre Martin

Hardy City Council met Tuesday, April 5 at 6 p.m. at City Hall. Mayor Ernie Rose opened the meeting. The minutes of the regular monthly meeting and the special meeting in March were approved, as well as the current agenda.

Hardy Advertising and Promotions (A&P) Commissioner Mark Huscher reported on the commission’s recent activities. At a special meeting held earlier on March 7, A&P voted to accept Darlene Wilson’s help to function as accountant for A&P and to report to A&P Financial Secretary Amanda Garland. At the last regular A&P meeting on March 28, the operating account balance was $71,881.78 and the reserve account was $1,036.33. Updates to the A&P website, managed by Commissioner Amanda Smith, are still ongoing. Some of the upcoming plans for the civic center are to improve electrical work, restrooms, and parking. The Hardy Business Directory has been updated and 5,000 copies will soon be printed for distribution. An agent from advertising company CJRW, which has contributed most of Hardy’s magazine ads, gave a presentation. The A&P is also considering hiring a marketing director. The committee voted to hold two monthly meetings to keep track of the growing number of potential upcoming projects and events at Hardy. Dennis Horton has offered to rent the civic center for an entire year to hold the Thursday dances, which have been postponed until the April 11 meeting. Chandler Slater requested $700 for the June 4 Spring River Car Show commercial, which was approved. The A&P has also approved $450 to the Hardy History Association to promote the Hardy Walking Tour to be held later this summer. The next A&P meeting took place on April 11 and the regular meeting will take place on Monday April 25.

The town’s financial report was presented by Recorder/Treasurer Darlene Wilson. She reported that USDA grant money had been received for the HVAC unit to be installed at Hardy Gym. The city was over budget for maintenance and repairs, which included improvements to City Hall as well as repairs to a fire truck. Salaries for additional employees and bonuses were also above budget. Along with these budget adjustments, the recent purchase of new radio equipment for the police department will also be factored into the revised budget that will be presented at the May council meeting.

Former Archivist/Treasurer Greg Bess spoke about the Official Local Police and Fire Retirement Fund (LOPFI). Bess explained that the city contributes a portion of the fund through the payroll account, which has been partially funded by about $7,000 to $8,000 from the state over the past two years. The city has accumulated money in the payroll. Additionally, Bess explained that he remains in close contact with the city’s general account as he is currently being audited and wants to be available for questions. The LOPFI budget was another account he wanted to keep for auditing purposes. Since 2020, there were 11 volunteer firefighters for which Bess had to make adjustments because, by mistake, they were not initially included in the LOPFI budget. This resulted in a penalty of approximately $9,000 for the city, and Bess took full responsibility for the error. He explained that it is difficult to keep track of the various volunteers who come and go. The extra payroll funds were available and Bess was asking permission to pay the penalty charges. The board voted to pay the $9,000.

Committee reports began with the fire department. Firefighter Josh Moore reported that a fire truck broke down with electrical and transmission issues, but is now in service.

After speaking with Police Chief Scott Rose, Councilman Herbert Wise provided an update on the police department. There were a few traffic stops that led to major drug seizures. There were exchanges of vehicles, a car was sold, then given back and resold. Ultimately, the department purchased a relatively new, fully equipped patrol car for around $2,000 with only about 60,000 miles on it.

Mayor Rose reported that the Hardy Gymnasium heating and air system is now installed. The heating system works very well and the air conditioning just needs a final check by the electrician and it will be fully operational.

Rose provided an update on park improvements. The restrooms at Buford Beach need the water lines hooked up. Most of the amenities for the Dr. Thompson Park restrooms were received, and Councilor David Garland suggested they host a council paint party for the facilities, a suggestion received with much laughter. Mayor Rose, however, willingly volunteered to help with this project.

The mayor brought up the mobile food truck vendors, a project that had been on the back burner for a few months, only because the committee was unable to meet to finalize an ordinance. Rose said in the meantime, they will reinstate the city’s current no-ordinance policy in place just to prevent any new vendors from setting up shop. Once the committee can reconvene to finalize an order, the changes will be considered by the board.

Rose discussed building permit fees, which had been waived due to COVID hardships. “I will say it’s my fault,” said the mayor, who thought the annual fee schedule was June-June but was actually January-January. Rose suggested that they wait until the end of June and submit to the board whether to start charging fees again. The board voted and agreed to reconsider the matter by June 30.

The Town of Hardy received three offers for a lawn maintenance service, all of which were reasonable. A tenderer, Tim Cooper, previously provided lawn care service for the city and was aware of what the city needed to do. He bid slightly higher than the others, with extended services included. The board voted to accept Cooper’s offer.

An order was discussed regarding a temporary employee, Jason Creasey, who worked as a volunteer firefighter and also provided carpentry services for the city. Mayor Rose explained that they had a problem because legally an employee hired by the city to do a job cannot work additional work without council approval. The current order specifically related to the city hiring Creasey to perform additional carpentry work in addition to his other duties as a volunteer firefighter. Attorney Joe Grider read the order, and after additional readings were waived by counsel, the order was read by title only. The council voted to accept the ordinance, along with the emergency clause allowing it to take effect immediately.

Mayor Rose announced that Hardy had been designated as Purple Heart City. Grider read the state proclamation letter explaining the Purple Heart award, which dates back to 1782 as a badge of honor for General George Washington’s military merit. Hardy receives this honor due to its significant number of citizens who are or are relatives of highly decorated veterans who served in military combat. Council member Sue Taylor had actively pursued the necessary avenues to have Hardy designated as Purple Heart City. State highway signs displaying the Purple Heart designation for the city were issued for display along the freeway at Hardy’s three entrances.

Steven Richey approached the council to announce another ATV ride to be held on May 21, a 42 mile round trip. Gifts of use of goods, door prizes and cash have already started to arrive. Richey explained that the $25 entry fee is per vehicle, not per person. There will be draws for cash prizes, one for $100 and five for $20, as well as door prizes donated by local businesses.

Gracie Gonzales has expressed concerns about the condition of properties on and around Main Street, from dilapidated to abandoned properties. She wondered what kind of message that sent to visitors who might otherwise want to invest in the community. Gonzales was advocating for increased enforcement of the code and to help the city improve its image. Mayor Rose agreed and said the city was working in that direction. They spoke with individual owners.

The Hardy town council meets the first Tuesday of each month at the town hall at 6 p.m.

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