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Children may get special library at Hardy

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Applying for a grant for a children's annex to the Hardy Library and the creation of a historic district commission were the main topics of discussion on the agenda at the Feb. 2 meeting of the Hardy City Council.

The meeting was called to order at 7 p.m. by Hardy Mayor Nina Thornton. Following roll call and prayer by Alderman Raymond Hicks, the minutes of both the Jan. 19 and special meeting were approved as read.

In old business, a time for discussion of the liquor issue was on the agenda, as it will be every month until the election. This time is set aside at each meeting to allow both the public and council to offer considerations on ways to address the issue if it were to pass, making Sharp County a wet county in November. Mayor Thornton said one of the suggestions could be to add a supplemental tax on alcoholic beverages sold within the city limits of Hardy. She said this tax would also help generate revenue for the city and could be used in the event another police officer might be required.

Alderman Bob Gilliland suggested looking up old ordinances that might have been in effect from when the city used to be wet and repealing them and creating a new ordinance. Other options the city has discussed in the past include making the city of Hardy dry and creating laws banning alcohol in parks and public areas in the city.

Anther topic on the liquor issues that was discussed by city council involved requiring business owners to come before council before being issued business licenses. Gilliland said the city might consider creating ordinances governing the types of businesses allowed within the city limits. All these are just considerations and no items have been voted on. Thornton leaves this time slot in each meeting open for discussion and considerations.

In other business, council voted unanimously to create a historic commission in the city of Hardy. Ordinance 2010-1 was passed by an emergency clause. This ordinance created a historic commission to allow the city to apply for grants for historic maintenance and improvements to the city. Thornton said a representative with the Arkansas Historic Preservation Society sent the city a model ordinance that was later tailored for Hardy's need. The ordinance will establish a board formally named the City of Hardy/Dr. Thompson Historical Preservation Commission (THPC) and be an entity of the city of Hardy.

The board will consist of 5-9 members appointed by the Mayor and further confirmed by city council. Members must be registered voters residing in Hardy and not hold any salaried or elected municipal offices. The term will be for three years and the commission will be set up so one member's membership will expire each year. Thornton said the historical preservation officer will also serve as a liaison to city council, helping the city work in unison with the commission.

This ordinance will be instrumental in helping Hardy get more homes on the historic register, something the late Dr. Audrey Thompson, whose namesake was used in creating the commission, was very passionate about. Thornton explained this will also help homeowners with interest in restoring their historic homes receive grant monies to do so. Council passed the ordinance and will begin selecting board members.

The next topic on the agenda was Main Street Hardy. Following a letter last month from the Main Street Hardy organization that they were ceasing the existence of the program, Main Street President Donna Cruse came forward with a letter to the city stating the organization had reconsidered and were creating a new board and asked to be put back in the budget for 2010. According to the Main Street organization, the original plan for ceasing the program came after funding cuts and lack of participation by downtown business owners.

Thornton said Cruse brought a letter into her office that stated they were going to continue. She said there were two original board members and the restructured organization planned to fill five new vacancies by Feb. 14. Council was concerned with the reason for Cruse's absence from the meeting.

Thornton said she told Cruse that she needed a new contract with the city for funding purposes. She said she also requested the organization provide the public with a meeting schedule as well as providing minutes of their meetings to the city. Alderman Raymond Hicks, Gilliland and Alderman Nathan Circle all agreed a representative should be present and requested they be in attendance at the next meeting ready to answer questions and clarify amounts of funding requested before approval, as well as providing the city with a letter of intent and having the contract signed. Alderwoman Margaret Harness said she feels the letter Cruse submitted should be considered a letter of intent because it outlines their intentions.

Council discussed considerations for the organization and said they felt they should suggest to the restructured organization that they concentrate their efforts on Main Street and maybe one large event yearly rather than so many. Circle said the city had already established the budget of $6,000 for the organization and said if they provided the required documentation the city should still give them that amount in $500 monthly increments. Council then voted to defer it until the new contract and goals were presented to council.

Thornton announced to council the success of the recent Advertising and Promotions Commission's Welcome to Arkansas training seminar held at city hall Jan. 20. She said there were representatives present for the training session from Ash Flat, Cherokee Village, Horseshoe Bend, Pocahontas and Mammoth Spring as well as two from out of the county.

In new business, Hardy Police Chief Ernie Rose commended the road department on their clean up efforts following the Jan. 29 snow storm. He said the city was able to utilize one of the four wheel drive vehicles to check on people who were shut in their homes or that needed some form of assistance.

In other new business, council voted to allow Thornton to apply for a grant to build a children's annex to the library. She said the city could not afford to expand the entire library, because only $125,000 is available from the grant. She said after talking to Cecilia Mullins, the Hardy librarian about the need for an expansion, she discovered that during the summer months the reading program for children has such an overwhelming response, the group had to be moved to the fire department to accommodate the children. She said if she had more space she could incorporate numerous other reading based programs for children throughout the year into the new annex. Thornton said the property behind the bank has been donated to the city for the annex. Thornton said she would move forward with the project and announced the city would have a public hearing on Feb. 16 at 5 p.m. at Hardy City Hall as required by law for anyone wishing to ask questions or discuss the project.

The Hardy City Council meets by-monthly on the first and third Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Hardy City Hall. The public is always invited to attend these meetings.



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