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Sky weather camera a possibility for Hardy

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Howell Westbrook, senior account executive of KAIT-8 television station in Jonesboro, presented "Growing Tourism in Hardy" to members of the Advertising and Promotions committee July 15. The presentation was to help the committee decide on whether to contract with the station for a weather and activity camera to be placed in the Hardy area. Photo/Tammy Curtis
During the regular monthly meeting of the Hardy Advertising and Promotions committee July 15, it was decided that Hardy could soon get an eye in the sky in the form of a weather camera. This technically advanced camera will have the capabilities to rotate and zoom in on the area in the event of bad weather or simply to highlight activities that may be going on the area.

A motion was made by Peter Martin to allow Hardy Mayor Nina Thornton to enter into a three year contract with KAIT for $28,000 a year. The motion was seconded by Sherry Groves. The vote was unanimously in favor of going ahead with the project with the funds coming from the Capital Improvements Section of the A & P's budget.

KAIT will be responsible for providing the weather station, upkeep, an internet Web page highlighting Hardy and spot advertisements on the television station. The amount was reduced from the original estimate of $28,800, pending approval from KAIT, to $28,000 a year if paid yearly rather than monthly.

Thornton said the $800 the committee saved would allow for the city to obtain high speed internet connection to the camera, a portion of the expense that wasn't included in the estimate. Howell Westbrook said that he will present the offer to his supervisor for approval and report back to the commission.

Present for the meeting and to explain the impact the camera could bring to the town was KAIT Vice President and General Manager Tim Ingram and Howell Westbrook, senior account executive. The men gave a Powerpoint presentation highlighting the capabilities of the camera system in regard to bringing tourism to Hardy while simultaneously providing a service to area citizens who pay advertising and promotions taxes.

Westbrook explained that there is a similar camera located in Paragould atop Arkansas Methodist Medical Center. He said it is not only a camera but, "a fully functional weather station," and further stated that KAIT-8 has Arkansas' only Doppler weather station. This highly technical device can pinpoint storms and is equipped with street level mapping to further the safety of people who live in areas where hazardous weather hits. He said it will provide a 360 degree live view of the city and can be manipulated manually to zoom or turn by the click of a mouse. Ingram explained that the city can control the input on the inside of the Web page by simply sending new content and updates to KAIT's IT department.

The weather cam will be featured on their five weather casts a day and be featured in three advertisement spots that will help direct viewers to the Hardy area Web page.

The presentation was titled "Growing Tourism in Hardy." The representatives explained to the A& P committee that 85 percent of tourists discover Hardy when passing through the city. They feel that this camera will be similar to a ripple effect causing the influx of tourism to the county that is directly proportional to the reach of the media. By highlighting activities and events on the camera, both Westbrook and Ingram feel that it will assist Hardy in increasing tourism to the area.

Ingram said KAIT reaches 21,000 viewers a week and feels this is a target for areas outside Sharp County whose residents live close enough to drive to Hardy for a day, weekend or even longer vacation. Given the economic downturn, Westbrook said many are opting for more local vacation ideas and the Hardy area provides many opportunities.

In addition to the weather and activity camera to be placed in Hardy, the package offered by KAIT-8 will include the production and airing of 30,15-second commercials aimed to drive the viewers to the Web site. These segments will air during one of the evening news cast and includes a daily "sponsored by" announcement to further project the city of Hardy. The camera and weather data will be available 24/7 on the KAIT-8 Web site.

In addition, both Ingram and Westbrook suggest rebranding Hardy to "Discover Hardy."

While presenting the program for the possible purchase of the camera spot to Hardy A & P, Westbrook attempted to explain some of the problems with residents of Region 8 not being able to receive signal from their rooftop antennaes. He also announced that KAIT has a an application before the Federal Communications Commission to quadruple the power of their broadcast signal so that those who are experiencing signal problems due to topography will begin receiveing a much stronger signal.

KAIT is the number one television station in Sharp, Izard, Independence, Craighead, Clay, Greene and Poinsett counties and is the number one ABC affiliate in surrounding counties, including five in the boothill of Missouri.

Ingram and Westbrook said that this will help promote Hardy to surrounding counties.

After the A& P agreed to the terms, both representatives of KAIT suggested the commission come up with a few feasible ideas regarding a location to place the camera. Most members agreed that the Hardy bridge and Spring River, capturing downtown Hardy and events on both Main Street and Loberg Park would be the most beneficial. A motion was made by Jim White to conduct a special meeting to arrive at a decision for the location and KAIT agreed to bring out a truck with similar equipment to the camera that will be used to select the best vantage point.

Westbrook explained that pending approval of the pricing from his supervisor, technicalities being worked out and the camera/weather station being built, the camera could possibly be working in six to eight weeks.

In other business, Thornton announced that the A&P had won a National Wild Turkey Federation rifle valued at $1,800 at a the National Wild Turkey Banquet at the Omaha Center in Cherokee Village. The A & P discussed donating the rifle to the Hardy Fire Department for their services. Sherry Groves suggested making sure that was within the scope of the A&P to decide. Thornton agreed to consult with the municipal league regarding the donation and bring it to the table at the next meeting.

Thornton also asked the committee to think of ideas to help promote family reunions in the Hardy area. Thornton said that Hardy has the lodging, restaurants and river, so these things would be a great promotion for family reunion packages in the area.

Also discussed was the material to be included in the upcoming issue of the Spring River Survival Guide.

Several events were suggested including the Pow-Wow, flea market, a country music show to be hosted by Jack Huffmaster in the Hardy gym, Junk and Jam and demonstrations to be conducted in Dr. Thompson Park during the October Art's and Craft's Festival.

A vacant position on the A&P Committee was filed by Nimmi Desai, owner of Best Western in Hardy. The motion to accept Nimmi to fill the position was made by Jim White and seconded by Sherry Groves.

Desai will fill the remainder of Marsha Weaver's term. Weaver is no longer eligible to be on the A & P Committee because she does not have a business that collects the A & P tax.

Guest Al Corte, an award winning event producer and director who recently relocated to the Glencoe area from Phoenix, Ariz., was present to speak with the committee about the possibility of producing a large scale music event in the Hardy area. Though the idea was welcomed and received favorable response from members, the main problem was lack of a location to house a large scale event. Suggestions were made, but parking and having an area closed off for such an event were the main hurdles. Thornton welcomed Corte's attempt to try to bring large crowds to the area, but said, "We just don't have any place to do it, I wish we did."

The next regular meeting of the A& P Committee will be held Aug. 19 at 5:35 p.m. at Hardy City Hall's break room. The public is invited to attend.

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Hardy should consider concerts on the SPRING.That would be a great venue, could be set up for xnumber of seats (bring your own) Much like the Concerts in the Garden here in Memphis. Or one of the B/B or motels could promote concerts like the Wildwood Springs Resort in Missouri,(check out their website) does to promote their area, Could be a room, meal(s) and concert packages or a combo of some type. Don't stop thinking just because we don't have the room. Create the idea and adjust to make it fit what we have. This is a great place and we should be proud to show it off.

-- Posted by troutman on Fri, Jul 24, 2009, at 10:25 AM

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