Changes in Hardy A&P commissioners bring new dynamics to city advertising

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

The Hardy Advertising and Promotions Commission (A&P) met on Nov. 22 at the Hardy Civic Center at 6 p.m. Commissioner Jeff Munroe opened the meeting in place of previous Chairman Charles Wilson, who officially resigned from the commission in October. A new A&P Chairman will be elected by the commission in December. Commissioner Mark Gordon had also resigned in October from his position on the A&P. Commissioners Amanda Garland, Amanda Smith, Nathan Circle and Tracie Moore were present. Once the minutes from the October meeting were accepted and the current agenda was approved, the meeting proceeded with the A&P financial report.

Munroe then reported as the A&P Finance Secretary. The reconciled balances as of the end of October were $99,408.99 for the operating account, and $1,036.25 for the reserve account. The updated balance in the operating account as of Nov. 22 was $102,027.11, and the reserve account remained unchanged. Only one check was written in October for the final payment on the civic center parking lot lease in the amount of $1,500.

Under old business, Commissioner Smith had taken on the job of getting bids for making the new Hardy sign to be placed along Hwy. 63 southeast of downtown. The Arkansas Highway Department will be coming out to mark the right-of-way for the sign in a week or so. It is a little complicated because of the proximity of a bridge and a cemetery, which will mark the sign to be between 88 and 102 feet from the center of the highway.

Smith had gotten two bids, including one from Cupples Sign Company for $4,500 plus tax for a 5 by 13-foot sign, as well as a bid from Canedy Sign and Graphics for $24,000 for a larger sign (7 by 18 feet). Smith is expecting a third bid in writing from Johnny Sartin of Salem Graphix who has a very quick turn-around time and has done some good work on other signs in the community.

According to Smith’s conversation with John Rogers of the highway department, there may be a limitation on sign size due to the right-of-way restrictions, with four by eight feet being the maximum size. That will be determined once they come out and mark the right-of-way. It was agreed the decision will be tabled until December when they will have the third bid and the highway department’s decision on the right-of-way.

Munroe then brought up the possible purchase of the parking lot at the civic center. The A&P had made the proposal to owner Ernest Sutherland to buy the lot for $125,000, to be paid out over five years at $25,000 a year with no interest. Sutherland would accept $125,000 to be paid out over three years due to family circumstances. The owner proposed the first two payments be in the amount of $50,000, leaving a final payment of $25,000. Sutherland would count the last lease payment of $1,500 as part of the initial payment, bringing the first payment to $48,500, due at closing which he requested to be within 60 to 90 days. The second year’s payment would be due on Oct. 31, 2022, and the last payment due on Oct. 31, 2023.

City Attorney Joe Grider is reviewing the paperwork and will prepare the title agreement. Munroe was asking the commissioners for approval to make the initial payment once the attorney has drafted the necessary paperwork. “We have the money to make the initial payment right in these 30 to 60 days and we’ll still have money to put in reserve [toward next year’s October payment],” Munroe offered. With their current account balances, the A&P will have $30,000 plus to carry-over into their reserve account for 2022. “That’s a pretty good nest egg to start the year with,” added Munroe. The commission approved to go ahead with the initial payment once the attorney’s paperwork was completed.

Munroe moved on to advertising in the Explore Mor(e) yearly publication which led into new business. An advertising firm, CJRW, works hand-in-hand with the tourism bureau and Ozark Gateway Magazine. Hardy A&P has partnered in the past with Cherokee Village on ads placed in four different magazines. The current ads for 2022 are still in the development stage and, as has been done in the past, will emphasize Spring River country. Commissioners Munroe and Smith met with a woman from CJRW to discuss pictures, and looked through archives of photos that showed the Spring River and people enjoying activities like hiking, boating and fishing the river. They will have another meeting, including representatives from Cherokee Village, on Dec. 1 to further discuss the design of the ads for all of the magazines, including Explore Mor(e). Munroe made the point there needed to be better communication between the A&P Commissioners of Hardy and Cherokee Village, and the advertisers and designers of the ads.

Munroe announced that Amanda Garland is the new commissioner replacing Charles Wilson’s position. She has been voted and sworn in by the Hardy City Council and Mayor Ernie Rose. Munroe discussed the elections in December for chairman, for which there has been a nominating committee appointed by previous chair Charles Wilson. Also, officers’ positions will be elected in December, including secretary and treasurer. Munroe predicted, “What it’s going to come down to is who wants to do what.” Munroe said job responsibilities for each office needs to be described specifically in writing.

Discussion followed among commissioners about serving as an officer. Munroe has been asked to be chairman, and is willing to do so but will gladly concede if anyone else wanted the role. He would like to see someone else take on the position of treasurer, though he said he could do both chair and treasurer, if necessary. Commissioner Smith likes her role as website liaison and dining/lodging commissioner, and would prefer not to be treasurer. Commissioner Mark Huscher, who was not present, recently became A&P Secretary and will likely remain in that role. Final elections will be held at the December meeting.

Munroe brought up the issue of communication regarding advertising events in Hardy. Many events are put on by different organizations, and may involve the Spring River Chamber of Commerce, Main Street Hardy and the City of Hardy. Most of these groups are not in communication with the A&P regularly. Some events are posted online and Munroe suggested people can go online to research event calendars in North Central Arkansas, but there isn’t one central location where people can find all of the upcoming calendar of events.

Discussion followed including comments from the audience as well as suggestions of ways to advertise, brighten up the city and bring in revenue. For instance, Freda Gamblin suggested Hardy post cards, which the city used to offer years ago and they are still being sought after today. Commissioner Circle remembered billboards near Ole Miss University years ago depicting Spring River and Hardy, but the question remains as to who paid for those. Commissioner Garland brought up the use of banners on light poles to add some color to the city. There was a question about the Christmas lights along Main Street. Munroe explained Entergy has been responsible for hanging those lights, and were behind schedule this year.

The older signs for Hardy are in need of maintenance and repainting, from the one in Dr. Thompson Park to others along the highway. The signs were originally put up by Main Street Hardy, but according to what Munroe heard, they were supposedly turned over to Hardy A&P. Munroe said if this could be clarified, repairs and maintenance of those signs could be taken over by the A&P, as long as they are within the city.

Commissioner Smith suggested advertising the civic center for rent, and putting it on the A&P website with size, pictures and price. It stays empty many weekends, which could be available space for reunions and special events. Monthly utility bills have been paid for by the city, according to Munroe. This will be something to address with the city since the A&P now owns the property. Munroe added the current wiring in the building is limited, as has been shown in the past with blown fuses. This could limit the kind of events held at the civic center unless the wiring is upgraded.

The Hardy Advertising and Promotions Commission meets the fourth Monday of every month at the Hardy Civic Center at 6 p.m.

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