Hardy City Council met May 12 at Hardy City Hall. The proposed natural gas system, the upcoming Census and a request from Police Chief Ernie Rose for a replacement of the current search and rescue vehicle were the topics of the meeting.
Stewart Noland, with Crist Engineers out of Little Rock, told the council about specifics of the proposed natural gas system that may soon become a reality for residents of Sharp County.
Noland told the council that the system, which had an overwhelming response in the feasibility study conducted in 2007 needs project champions to make the system a reality.
Judge Larry Brown and the mayors of Highland, Cherokee Village, Hardy, Ash Flat, Evening Shade and Williford have all signed intent forms to participate in the program.
The program will cost about $26 million dollars, $15 million of which will be available in the form of a grant from the United States Department of Agriculture through the Stimulus Plan. The balance would be funded by revenue bonds. These bonds would be paid for strictly through the sale of the commodity.
Noland said this unprecedented county wide system will be unique in the fact that it will allow the county to purchase natural gas at a wholesale price. Because there is a distribution line already in place near Cave City, the commodity will be readily available and since the line is not owned by any particular distributor, Sharp County can purchase natural gas at competitive prices from dealers. He said that as soon as he hears back from representatives at USDA, the user agreements will be mailed to potential users.
Noland said these contracts will be administered though water departments in the cities. Noland was asked questions in regard to the ease of conversion from a propane system. He said that although some appliances would convert with the simple changing of an orifice, he recommended that residents contact a licensed natural gas plumber in regard to pipe sizing and whether or not an appliance could be properly converted.
Noland also said that he has representatives from White River Planning and Development working on a potential grant to help offset any costs to residents in regard to conversions.
Noland said that the user agreements were binding legal contracts, which when signed and returned to the city, obligate the user to accept the service when it becomes available with no initial hook-up fee.
He encouraged those who have an interest to sign-up so revisions can be made to the distribution map.
Ruth Reynolds also addressed the council in regard to her opposition of the natural gas system. She urged members to consider renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and geothermal energy. She does not feel that a fossil fuel infrastructure is in the best interest of the county and also commented on ways to cut carbon emissions that are believed to be, at least in part, responsible for global warming that is causing Arctic ice masses to melt at alarming rates.
In other business, Hardy Police Chief Ernie Rose addressed the council to thank them for the fire department's new turnouts and requested the purchase of a used 1997 Dodge van to replace the current search and rescue van. Rose said the current van has slipped out of gear and damaged the door at the fire department, nearly injured a fireman and has become a safety hazard.
The council agreed to purchase the 1997 van for $1,200 for the fire department.
Rose said the truck is used for water rescues and hard to get to places. He said it will house scuba gear and equipment used in the water rescues that are an unfortunate fact on the Spring River and surrounding lakes in the area.
Mayor Nina Thorton also reviewed materials received from representatives of the upcoming U.S. Census Bureau. The material addressed funding options available to cities and organizations that promoted their residents participation in the census. Thorton said that organizations can receive up to $2,999 per event for materials that bear the 2010 census logo and tagline.
Thorton also brought up to the council the importance of being pro-active in regard to the upcoming wet-dry issue and ways to addresss issues should the county become wet. Things discussed were a potential ordinance that would not allow sales of alcohol within a certain number of feet from a city park.
Thorton also discussed with the council the possibility of shutting down Johnson Street in Hardy between Main and Front Streets to create an amphitheater for a more permanent type of entertainment complex for the city.