The City of Hardy had a rough start to the new year, but the small town is getting back on track and is optimistic for the upcoming year. Dealing with accusations from local media outlets and clean up from back to back storms, city officials are still finding the time to make sure the budget stays on track and even look for other ways to save money.
One of those ways is by hiring a new city attorney. Alex Bigger, an attorney from Pocahontas, Ark., offered to bring his experience to the table at a significantly lower price than local attorney, Hollie Greenway, who has served the city for several years. The council has appreciated Greenway’s advice over the years, but are concentrating on areas where money can be saved.
Continuing to move forward and be progressive, newly appointed Director of the Department of Public Safety, Tamara Taylor, informed council members at the most recent meeting held on Tuesday, March 7, that the police and fire departments have been applying for grants and are hoping to apply for more. Hardy Police Department officers will soon have body cams as soon as April. The body cams are a purchase made possible through a grant. Taylor also presented a policy to implement for the city as part of having the body cams.
Taylor is excited about the future of both departments, and having assistant fire chief Jason Griffin on board, is a step in the right direction for the Hardy Volunteer Fire Department. At the meeting held on Tuesday, Feb. 21, Griffin gave a fire call summary and informed the council he was able to make repairs, in-house, on equipment and save thousands of dollars by doing so. The fire department has also been the recipient of a grant recently and purchased a radio for the station. Another purchase made possible through a grant, is a purchase of smoke detectors. “We go into a lot of houses where people can’t afford smoke detectors,” said Mayor Jason Jackson. “If they [Hardy residents] call city hall, we will put them in for free. WE have two boxes right now and I’m pleading with them to give us one more box.”
Also at the February meeting, several Hardy business owners, employees of Hardy businesses and residents came forward to voice their support for Mayor Jackson. Nearly 10 people came forward on behalf of themselves, or a business, and said they were proud of the work Jackson has already completed and are looking forward to the work he promises to continue. At the opposite end of their sentiments was local newspaper owner/editor, Dawana Goings, who wanted to inform the people of Hardy that Mayor Jackson hasn’t been complying with FOIA requests made by herself.
Representing the Sharp County Regional Airport, Judy Brown came forward and encouraged Hardy to utilize the two spot they are allowed to have someone serving on the airport board. “You are paying for a multi-million dollar asset. Each of the quad cities has two spots. We need representation from Hardy,” said Brown.
It was brought to the public’s attention that a new truck was purchased for the city’s use. Superintendent Billy Gilbreath has been saving money and was able to purchase a $38,000 truck, for $24,000. The city didn’t have the need to finance the truck and it was paid in full by the money Gilbreath had saved. Mayor Jackson told the public that anything being purchased right now, or upgraded, is through money saved by the city, and Gilbreath’s ability to be frugal with city funds.
Graycen Bigger, an education from Arkansas State University and advocate for the arts, represented an organization called Doniphan Vitality at the February meeting. The organization would like to come in and provide substantial funds to put into creative efforts. Some of the efforts might include; downtown revitalization, creative place making (utilizing arts to boost communities), creating jobs, etc. The organization has partnered with the University of Missouri Extension and will be doing a feasible study with a six county range in Missouri and Arkansas. More on this subject will be presented in Villager Journal at a later date.
At the March meeting, Mayor Jackson informed residents that an audit by FEMA had been completed. Prior to the audit, the City of Hardy was at risk of becoming ineligible due to a payment of funds not received from the city for several years. Jackson and recorder/treasurer Myranda Hobbs, were pleased with the auditor and said it couldn’t have gone better. They were able to make a payment of approximately $38,000 to have good standing with FEMA, and because they have complied, will more than likely get a sizable refund. The city was at risk for not being eligible for any funds through FEMA, but have solved the issues and will be able to work with FEMA in the future.
During the speakers portion of the meeting, Donna Boyd and Robin Stone were there to represent the Hardy Senior Center. Boyd, who is the Hardy Senior Center Director, said White River Health System has asked all centers to get back into fundraising. WRHS has asked centers to provide $850, if possible, a month. The first fundraiser to cross Boyd’s mind is a rummage sale. She is in the beginning states of planning the event, and if anyone would like to participate by donating items or by helping at the center, contact her at 870-856-2175 or 870-955-8636.
Stone, who is the Regional Director, said WRHS is only asking the centers contribute half of what it takes to operate each on monthly. Each amount requested of the individual senior centers is based on each individual center’s operational fees. “At the end of 2017, it is projected that [WRHS] will be $187,000 in the hole, because we haven’t done a lot of fundraising. We are trying to open that back up. We’re trying to get out in the communities again because we have lost it.,” said Stone.
Hardy City Council meets the first Tuesday of each month at 6 p.m. at the city hall.
Reprinted with permission © Copyright 2017, Area Wide News
Story URL: http://www.areawidenews.com/story/2394858.html