Hardy A & P approves weekly dances to be held at the civic center

Wednesday, March 31, 2021
After Hardy Mayor Ernie Rose is finished with demolition using a crew of inmates, Haney’s Lawn Service will begin a renovation project on the “Hardy” signage located near the stoplight.
Elaine Brown

The Hardy Advertising and Promotion (A&P) Commission met on March 22 at 6 p.m. at the Hardy Civic Center. Chairman Charles Wilson brought the meeting to order. After the current agenda and minutes from the last meeting were approved, Jeff Munroe began with the financial report. The reconciled reserve and operating accounts as of February were $51,004.19, and $40,526.68, respectively. As of March 22, the reserve account remains the same, and the operating account was $47,688.68. There was only one check written from the operating account last month for pest control for $43.70.

Chairman Wilson rearranged the agenda slightly to accommodate two visitors, Chuck Young and Eddie Cooper, musicians of the band “Forever Young.” They were proposing to the commission to use the Hardy Civic Center as a venue for a dance with live music to be held every Thursday night starting in mid-April. Young explained, “We had one in the gym [in Hardy] at one time back a few years ago, sometimes we’d have close to 100 people in there, but we couldn’t control the temperature in there so we didn’t get to keep it going very long.” The Hardy Civic Center would be ideal for such events, and the building would still be available on the weekend for other events. They have held these kinds of dances in Melbourne, Mountain View and Salem. At those events, they’ve had the agreement of a 70/30 split at the door, with 70% going to the band and 30% going to the building rental. Admittance would be $6 per person ($4 to the four-piece band, $2 to the building).

Chairman Wilson explained that renting the building is $300 for the day/night, but adjustments to that could be discussed. Commissioner Mark Gordon asked what kind of music they played, and Cooper replied, “We’re talking about country music, dance music, it’s older people…We’ll play a little bit of fast stuff for the [livelier] dancers, and two-steps, lots of waltzes, polkas, stuff like that. It’s a great location to have a dance.” Cooper added, “I think it would bring people into Hardy and some of ‘em would come up early and eat. I think it would be an attraction for Hardy.” The dance would begin at 7 p.m. and end at 9:30 p.m. There is no alcohol, and the decision to offer concessions is up to the city.

Young piped in, “These people…it’s exercise for them; I mean they really do. They line dance, they two-step a lot and we do waltzes and stuff like that. The one we do at Salem, we’ve been doing it for seven or eight years.” People come from Missouri, Jonesboro, Ravenden and Black Rock. Gordon asked about the number of people who typically attend and Young said, “You’ll get as many people as the building will allow.” The attendance is usually between 65 to 80 people, depending on the building. Sometimes they’ve had over 100 attendees.

Young said people in other towns had been asking when they were going to start playing in Hardy. Cooper added, “If there’s not a crowd here, nobody’s going to make any money. I think it’d be a good draw. I really do. I think it’d be a good draw for Hardy, and give us a place to play. We’re just bustin’ to play. We haven’t played since COVID.” They have played in a lot of surrounding towns, but not on Thursday nights.

Young and Cooper admitted they could not guarantee $300 a night since they are depending on the percentage of attendance, but they could guarantee four dances a month. Commissioner Gordon said, “It’s not just about the money. With 100 people, if my math is right, the most we could get is $180 or something like that. I see the benefit of having people come [to Hardy].” Gordon was concerned if they cut the price for building rental to “Forever Young” dances, then others might want to follow suit. The commission considered charging an hourly rate for the building rental, but given the dance only lasts from 7-9:30 p.m., they also discussed taking 30% of the proceeds at the door.

Everyone agreed that April 15 would be a good night to start. Munroe suggested, “I say that if there’s nothing going on Thursday night…we should try to work with [Young and Cooper]. The end result is to get away from the $300, to try to establish an hourly thing.” Gordon agreed that the flat rate might be too tasking for the event to bring in every week, but debated, “I don’t think they can guarantee an hourly thing. We may be screwing ourselves a little bit on the hourly thing if they have 100 people come in here, that’s $600…” which would come to $200 for the civic center rental. There was some debate over whether it would be wise to charge by an hourly rate versus 30% of proceeds at the door. Young offered, “You guys will be a lot better off money-wise to do the deal at the door.”

Wilson had a thought, “You talked about controlling the temperature, during the summer months, it takes a lot of electricity to air condition that [back] room in there. The city pays the electric bill for us. I would like to work with you too, but I wonder how you all would feel about doing this starting out on a two-month probation to see all the costs involved and what income is involved, so if the city feels like it’s too big a burden on them...” Young and Cooper immediately agreed wholeheartedly.

If everything goes well and they continue, the building will need to be cooled down early in the day in the summertime to prepare for the evening’s events. A motion was made and seconded to accept the 70/30 split on the door proceeds, with a two-month probation beginning April 15. The motion passed unanimously.

Concessions were discussed and Young and Cooper offered they do not normally provide concessions, but they were open for negotiations. Much consideration was taken with regard to local Hardy restaurants possibly catering a small menu. Gordon offered, “The different people who are collecting A&P taxes that have food businesses, have them alternate, and see if they are interested in filling in and working it one week or so forth or have them for the whole month.” It would be an opportunity for local businesses to spread their food and name. Munroe added, “There’s typically nothing going on on a Thursday night.” Chairman Wilson suggested perhaps Bob & Sandy’s BBQ might be willing to move their food truck to the civic center on Thursday night. It was agreed that concessions would be a nice addition, but not necessary.

Further discussion regarding concessions, which will likely be open for Hardy businesses to take part, continued later in the meeting after Commissioner Tracie Moore (who had been absent for the earlier discussion) was briefed on the Thursday night dances. She and her husband, Rick, own Rick’s BBQ and when asked whether she might participate in the concessions part of the events, she was not ready to commit. Moore did express it was a good idea for local restaurants and businesses to have the opportunity to participate in such an event.

Commissioner Munroe reported on the progress of the Hardy sign renovation. Though Larry Fowler, owner of Haney’s Lawn Service, was not present at the meeting to answer questions, Munroe had spoken with him about the timeline. Hardy residents had been asking whether the sign renovation would be completed by Memorial Day, and Fowler had assured him that it would not be a problem. “He’s going to take care of us. He’s going to make sure it gets done,” said Munroe. As far as the landscaping around the letters, Fowler did not think mulch would work well as it is more prone to sliding and being scattered around. River rock would work much better in that regard. Meanwhile, commissioners were examining photos of the mock-up to look at the contrast between the white letters and surrounding background, and they all agreed that it looked good with the river rock. After Mayor Ernie Rose is finished with the demolition using a crew of inmates, Haney’s Lawn Service will get on the project immediately.

The total cost of the project is $16,206.15, which was not included in the A&P budget. The commission had allocated the usual $20,000 to the city for parks, so they were musing about asking Mayor Rose if part of that money could be used to fund the project. Chairman Wilson added, “We’ve got $47,000 in the operating account, we’ve got $51,000 in reserve, which is our last payment for the building…We’ll work something out on that, but we should be able to come up with the money, one way or another. I’m sure Jeff will figure out a way to do it.” Wilson was teasing Munroe, who had taken on more than his share of responsibilities for the A&P Commission over the past few months. The approval of funding for the project had been made at the February meeting, contingent upon the approval of the mock-up, which everyone agreed looked good. The project will be completed presumably by or before Memorial Day, and funding will come out of the A&P operating account unless money can be obtained elsewhere.

Wilson had heard from Kevin Burton about running a radio ad for the gun show. “He requested A&P sponsor an ad package for the gun show starting Wednesday [March 24] for $100 for 60 30-second ads, 30 on one station, 30 on the other.” Wilson continued, “We can do that, only $100, but unless I’m mistaken, in our budget we have $1,000 allocated for advertising for the gun show already, and it looks like the radio station might be trying to double-dip.” Discussion followed whether they should even consider it. They have two shows a year, and the A&P commission pays $1,000 per show for advertising. No one on the commission seemed interested in considering the $100 offer.

After discussions with Commissioners Mark Huscher and Munroe, Chairman Wilson proposed to the commission that some of Munroe’s duties might be passed onto Huscher, who was recently sworn in as a member of the A&P commission. Specifically, Huscher has volunteered to be acting secretary, which involves taking minutes and notifying everyone of meetings. Huscher also offered to take on the position of serving as A&P representative to the city council. Motions were made and passed for Huscher to relieve Munroe of those duties.

Wilson continued with regard to landscaping outside the civic center. The area on the west end of the building, from the flag pole to the garage door, is an eye sore every summer; it gets overgrown with weeds. Wilson has spoken with John Norberg and Rob Smith who maintain Dr. Thompson Park, and they have offered to trim the bushes and plant some flowers in the planter, all of which would be donated. They will start working on that March 31.

Commissioner Huscher asked about the status of the business directory, which has not been updated since 2019. Wilson said he was getting help from his daughter, his wife Darlene and Monica, the city clerk, in getting business names and contact information together. Gordon would then review it, and bids would be taken on printing, Areawide Media had printed it previously. Freda Gamblin, previous chairman of the commission, commented that in the past, the directories had been well received and additional copies were requested by the information centers. Munroe had recently received requests for an updated version of the directory.

Huscher redirected the conversation to who should take the initiative on the restaurant participants for the concessions for the Thursday night dances. Wilson suggested writing a letter inviting restaurants to participate, and the commission can then hone down to the ones who are interested and can bid for weekly slots. Menu items offered can be decided by each restaurant.

The Hardy A&P Commission meets the fourth Monday of every month at 6 p.m. at the Hardy Civic Center.

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