Due to weather conditions, Hardy cancelled their regular City Council meeting Dec. 16 but that did not keep Hardy Mayor Nina Thornton from sharing some exciting news the city received.
Hardy's Fire Department is a volunteer based fire department with 25 volunteers. It takes a special kind of person to risk their lives but imagine doing it for no pay.
In March, Thornton applied for a FEMA grant to be used toward the city's fire department. Thornton said she has worked on this grant every month since trying to get everything FEMA needed to approve the grant. After eight months of waiting for a response from FEMA, Thornton finally received word that the city was approved for the money.
Thornton said FEMA approved the grant for $118,869. This money will be used to purchase 25 new turnouts, fire suits, 15 self-contained breathing apparatuses (SCBA) and new hoses for all the trucks.
According to Hardy Fire Chief Ernie Rose, the equipment is much needed. "All of our equipment is in pretty bad shape," Rose said. "Everything we have is at least 10 years old." Rose said all of the equipment is ready to be ordered, they are just waiting on the funds to be transferred to their account. Rose said the volunteers were tickled to death when they found out about the grant money.
The city of Hardy began reconstruction of Loberg Park several months ago and much of the renovation was done with grant money, but according to Thornton, the city would be responsible for the $6,500 it would cost to put up a new fence along the railroad tracks that run alongside the park.
"We felt there needed to be a fence there so children weren't playing on the tracks," Thornton said. She said she contacted Burlington Northern Sante Fe (BNSF) and asked them if they would be interested in donating the money to construct the fence.
Thornton said she explained the danger of the children's playground being so close to the tracks and they agreed to donate $6,500 to the city. The representative from BNSF said they are not in the fence business but he understood the problems the city endured due to the floods and that is why he agreed to it.
Conrad Battreal, a committee chairman for Arkansas Floodplain Management Association (AFMA) presented Thornton with the Floodplain Manager of the Year Award for 2008.
The recipient of this award must be a member of the AFMA. According to Danny Straessle, chairman of the communications committee for AFMA, Thornton was chosen for several reasons this year. Straessle said AFMA thought Thornton managed the floods Hardy endured this year very well and she has done some excellent things for the city of Hardy in terms of the floodplains.
Jim Narry, also a chairman for AFMA, said Shawn Jackson of Arkansas National Resource Commission nominated Thornton for the award. According to Narry, Jackson travels the state trying to help communities better their floodplain management technique.
Narry said, in the past Hardy did not have a very good management plan. "Thornton took such respect (in floodplain management) that she had a flood warning system installed," Narry said. "It is one of only two in the state."
Narry said he was not on the committee when Thornton was nominated but he is sure there were several nominations to choose from and he feels the committee made an excellent choice.