Citizens Take A Stand At A & P Meeting

Court-GavelA man and his gavel is still just a man, even if  your Peter Martin who is banging his gavel while trying to control and dictate those that care about Hardy, Ar. Once again, a meeting of the A&P was unable to proceed with its true purpose, which is  to approve  a proper budget and make decision to promote Hardy, AR. because of this one man, Peter Martin.

Instead of moving forward with planning and focus he chose to continue to be angry that the Mayor was removed as a A & P member by a legal vote of the city Alderman.

His actions alone at the meeting should be enough to have him removed from this position. He even attempted to have the director of the Main Street Of Hardy, Inc, a Main Street program removed by police officers at one point. Luckily the CITIZENS in attendance stood up and said, NO to such childish behavior.

Now, Mr Martin appears to have filed suit in court over two of our elected Alderman who were approved and appointed to the A & P commission. He continues to act out like a small child having a tantrum instead of doing his proper job.

Let’s hope the citizens continue to stand up, speak out, and fight for the rights of those that were voted by them to serve them and do what is best for Hardy, AR.

 

Two Historical First In One Meeting!

At he most recent City Council meeting held on Tues. Mar. 19th  in Hardy, AR., we were fortunate to experience two historical first moments at the same meeting! The first was the Mayor, Nina Thornton who enforced her authority to VETO a prior vote in a earlier council meeting where she was legally REMOVED from the board of the city A&P committee. It was obvious in that meeting she was unhappy with this move by the council.

However in using her power to VETO, she quickly learned about another power, one of the PEOPLE and it’s elected alderman. They motioned to overrule her VETO on the prior vote. Because, by law all that is needed is a 2/3 vote of the council to do this! Thus as quickly as the Mayor used her power to VETO, the council stood strong and firm with their prior meeting vote and simply OVERRULED her!

It is good to once and all see that the people are tired of being ignored and the wishes of the majority seem to finally be getting voiced.

Let’s hope that now the council can actually get to work and be productive in making Hardy a better place to live and visit!

Hardy Council Meets and Makes Little Ground On Lengthy Agenda

Photo by Tammy Curtis Members of Hardy City Council welcomed new members Feb. 5 to their first meeting of the year. Husband and wife team Dale and Leanne Maddox, far left, and Vicky Rice joined the six member council.

Three new aldermen joined the Hardy City Council at its first meeting of 2013 on Feb. 5, but very little action was taken as a lengthy agenda was discussed in a meeting, that, at times, felt more like a debate session between the mayor and one new council member.

For the first time in the history of the Quad Cities, a husband and wife are on the six person council. Dale and Leanne Maddox joined the body, replacing former Aldermen Bob Gilliland and Nathan Circle. Also, first time alderwoman Vicky Rice has replaced Margaret Harness.

FOIA Guidelines

Mayor Nina Thornton opened the meeting by outlining the definition of an illegal meeting between council members per Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) guidelines. She explained that two or more members could not discuss a topic, which the council was considering, outside a regular meeting venue. Dale Maddox, addressed Thornton’s statement, implying it was aimed at he and his wife. Maddox read read an Attorney General opinion on the topic, indicating the rules and certain instances where this type of FOIA violation may occur.

“There is potential for that, I understand, but I see six people here, and we are a council of integrity and that is the way we are going to operate,” Maddox said. The mayor said it was just her job to remind everyone of the rules and further explained that it wasn’t against the law for a married couple to be on the council together. She went on to remind the two not to discuss agenda or city items outside council meetings.

Alcohol ordinance

Under old business, City Attorney Jon Abele was asked to address the city’s proposed liquor ordinance, and options the city had in regard to further regulation above what the state already has in place. Abele outlined four options including permit fees, facility lighting, a per drink tax that the city could impose and a supplemental tax on a private club. Other Sharp County cities have already passed liquor ordinances. The discussion about the permit fees was aimed at on and off premise businesses ,and not the four full fledged liquor stores, which will open later. The “once price fits all” model seemed to be favored by the majority of the council, because there are no alcohol sales figures on which to base the permit fee. Council discussed an initial permit fee of $40, until the businesses have established one year’s worth of sales to judge the city’s take of the one half of one percent of sales fee.The city council would then have the option to revise the ordinance if it wants to base the permit fee on actual sales. Alderwoman Vicky Rice agreed, “I think one flat fee would be less confusing,” she said. Thornton explained all the building and business permit fees go to benefit the fire department. “It is beneficial to encouraging new businesses,” Rice said. Abele said it might not be wise to treat private club and on and off premise sales permits the same in regard to pricing. He explained the supplemental beverage tax of up to 5 percent per drink was an option that could also be imposed by the city. Many local businesses have expressed concern about that tax.

Alderman Maddox said permit fees should not be set too high initially. “It seems to me, at least for this year, to charge a single fee for all business. My own thinking is that we have new businesses. I know there is negative impact with alcohol sales in some places, but we do not know how that is going to unfold. I don’t see a reason to be punitive with taxes to new businesses right out of the gate. There is always opportunity to raise the fee in the future.”

After a lengthy discussion, the topic was tabled until council could meet on Feb. 7, in a working meeting, to further discuss the options.

Currently, Hardy has one business with an on-premise license to sell beer and wine. Abele also stated on-premise businesses are required to have an additional city permit, above and beyond their regular business license, to sell beer and wine. Thornton said businesses seeking beer and wine permits are required to go to training in Little Rock before being issued licenses, and they should be aware they will also need a city license. The mayor advocated for the five cent tax for the city, stating, “If I drank and went to a club and it was a nickel (tax) on a dollar (purchase), five cents is not going to make me not drink that beer. I just don’t think that is going to keep anyone from drinking a beer.”

Donations to complete Woodland Hills substation

Chief Rose addressed council about the Woodland Hills Fire Department substation, which will house a base for a crew from Spring River Ambulance. The substation will improve ambulance response time in Hardy, and cut the company’s fuel cost, compared to its current Ozark Acres base. Rose gave an update on the renovations to the building near city hall, which currently houses a pumper truck and some water rescue equipment. Rose spoke of the need for community financial support to help with the costs to complete the remodeling of the station. For more information on the project, see a related story in this week’s edition.

Possible Purchase of Lot by Fire Department Substation

Council then discussed the proposed purchase of a small lot and doublewide home next door to the Woodland Hills substation. The land, which lies in a flood plain, is coming up for auction by a private company on Feb. 16. Chief Rose explained there is currently only a few feet of clearance on each side of the building. If the fire department ever plans to expand, this would be the only opportunity to purchase the property. Maddox questioned whether the city can purchase private property at auction, and suggested a private individual should purchase it and perhaps sell it to the city. Thomas Estes, a reporter with the Spring River Chronicle, spoke from the audience asking the mayor why the city didn’t take the property by imminent domain. The mayor said that would not be fair to the property owner. No decision was made as to how the city should handle the issue of obtaining the lot.

Council Meeting

Procedures

A discussion about canceling city council meetings and setting times for meetings sparked another lengthy discussion, that at times resembled an argument between the mayor and members of the council, particularly Dale Maddox. Alderman Maddox presented a detailed motion regarding meeting times, dates and other meeting rules. The draft was immediately met with debate from the mayor.

In the proposal, Maddox suggested the proper method for canceling a meeting would be for the mayor to obtain agreement from one alderman from each ward. Thornton said, “Well, I just can’t call you up and ask you, because that is an illegal meeting. You can’t do that.”

Maddox countered by stating, “Well, you can cancel a meeting with just your spoken voice, that doesn’t seem quite correct.” Maddox questioned why she could not call alderman and ask whether they wanted to cancel a meeting. Thornton replied,”If I call to ask you to vote on whether or not to have a meeting, that is a meeting.” Maddox pointed out that the January council meeting was canceled by the mayor, simply sending out a letter. Alderwoman Maddox suggested the mayor could inform aldermen when she saw a need to cancel a meeting, giving alderman the initiative to agree or disagree.

The mayor said she did not think that was right. Some aldermen saw a need to change the rule from how it has “historically” been done. Alderman Maddox pointed out the mayor has cancelled meetings in the past and not rescheduled them, something that leads to a very lengthy agenda at later meetings. He asked Thornton how she did that, in the past, if there was no ordinance giving her the power.

Thornton explained that, after attending the Municipal Leagues Winter conference, it was advised that each city should have an ordinance specifying meeting times. Maddox said he felt it was important for the council to follow the Municipal League suggestion to pass meeting rules and regulations at the first meeting of the year.

Finally, after nearly 20 minutes of debate, the council voted unanimously to hold meetings at 6 p.m. on the first and third Tuesday of each month at Hardy City Hall. Due to scheduling conflicts by the mayor and clerk, the council’s next meeting was moved from Feb. 19 to Feb. 21 at 6 p.m.

Agenda Format

After jumping the meeting time hurdle, Alderman Maddox proposed an agenda format to follow, which is somewhat different than the current one the city has used in that past. Maddox explained that, in the past, public comments and presentations have been last on the agendas prepared by the mayor. He said it was not respectful to the public. He also suggested Clerk Groves prepare the agenda. After the motion and second were made to vote, the mayor began a discussion stating, she “has always done the agenda” and that Groves, “has no interest in doing the agenda.”

The new format also included allowing department reports to be presented, something currently done by all other cities in Sharp County, except Hardy.

Maddox’s motion proposed allowing speakers to appear before the council before business is conducted. The mayor continued to question Maddox’s motion, despite a motion and a second to vote on the item. Thornton asked why he wanted Groves to prepare the agenda rather than her.

Groves explained she did not have time because, unlike recorder-treasurers in other cities, she does not have a secretary and is in the process of learning a new auditing program. Eventually, the council unanimously voted on the agenda format, including having Groves prepare agendas and changing the deadline for anyone wishing to get on the agenda from to 4 p.m. on Thursday. The former deadline to get on the agenda was Friday at 4 p.m.

Main Street Hardy

Al Corte, Executive Director of the Main Street Hardy organization, asked that the city make its appropriation of $1,500, something he said was pledged last year but never made. The funds help with expenses of Main Street Hardy events. Besides the March 23-24 Gun and Knife show slated for the Hardy Gym, Corte also outlined 2013 activities planned by Main Street Hardy. They include a Crafters Day set for April 27 to feature local crafters in the downtown, an outdoor Bingo night and a Mountain Music Festival on May 18. The fall brings plans for an Oktoberfest downtown.

For 2013, per the new ordinance passed at the Feb.5 meeting, council meetings will be held one hour earlier than in 2012 — 6 p.m. on the first and third Tuesdays at Hardy City Hall. The public is welcome to attend the meetings.

(Reprinted with permission:) © Copyright 2013, Area Wide News

Story URL: http://www.areawidenews.com/story/1940985.html

Alderman Position Filled By Appointment

I guess procedure laws in the State of Arkansas are not required to be followed. It appears that our Mayor now feels she can just appoint a person to feel that vacant position. However in reviewing the law we believe it clearly establishes the procedure for such a vacant  position which reads:

 

14-44-104.    Vacancy in alderman’s office.
Whenever  a vacancy shall occur in the office of alderman in any city of the  second class, at the first regular meeting after the occurrence of the  vacancy, the city council shall proceed to elect, by a majority vote of  the council, an alderman to serve for the unexpired term.

This seems pretty clear and straight forward to us. I do not see where the Mayor can appoint such a position. Let’s hope that the current Alderman of the City of Hardy speak out and vocalize that what the Mayor is doing is wrong. If she continues to violate rules and procedures, maybe the Alderman should have their own special vote! It just takes 2/3 rds to override her appointments!

2011 Financial And Compliance Report

The City of Hardy has a standard financial and compliance report done by the State on a regular basis. The purpose of this audit is to see if the City is in compliance with certain state laws and  district court accounting, budgeting, purchasing and investing and depositing of public funds.

In 2010 and in 2011 it was noted that  the Recorder/Treasurer was in noncompliance with state law and accepted accounting practices. Specifically the general funds cash  receipt and disbursement journals were not properly classified and posted as required by Ark. Code Ann. 14-59-110, -111.

To view the audit report, simply click  HERE

DISCOVERHARDY.COM Is Poorly Managed – FACT

The one in charge of the city’s official “Tourist Website” has failed to even keep the most simple information up to date. Is this the same person who spends the A&P funds to place ads to promote the City of Hardy and its outdated website in its most recent placed ad in the Areawide paper?

In an effort to help point out the outdated information, lets detail just a few of the errors currently displayed on the official city tourist website at WWW.DISCOVERHARDY.COM (which really just redirects to (www.oldhardytown.net)

Under Shopping in Hardy

  • Kozey Kandles & More (They are actually located inside of the Rebel Gas Station)
  • The Sparrows Nest- Book Seller (Closed for Retirement)
  • Tall Cotton (Closed)
  • River Market (Never opened – as far as we know)

Now..the one’s not even on the website that need to be added:

  • Jade’s
  • Mandy’s On Main
  • Studio Beads
  • Hippie Chicks (next to the Tattoo Salon)
  • English Tea House Gift Shop (inside the new Pig-n-Whistle Restaurant)
  • Hardy Knife Company

Under Ozark Dining

  • Garlic Rose (It is now the Spotted Finn)

Missing for the website:

  • Pig-N-Whistle

Under Services and Groceries

  •  Al Capones Garage (Moved to Ash Flat)

Missing from this section:

  • The Rebel Station with a gift shop and food services too and tourist information.

 Under Coming Up In Hardy

Missing: An event for Fall Crafts Market, Sept. 15th and 16th

  • Hardy Garden Club is sponsoring a Fall Crafts Market September 15th and 16th in the old Hardy Gym. This will be featuring handcrafted items only. No imports; or commercially produced items. This will be a great time to do early Christmas shopping as well as finding great items for a special gift; or decor for everything fall and winter. Information 870-856-4041.

Now these are not new issues, the site is the same site now for well over 5+years even after new software was aquired to improve on it. Besides the 5 minutes it took to type up this article is how long it takes to update and correct the problems on the City website!  So, why is it not corrected?

Maybe the person who put this very long run on sentance on the ad that ran in the Areawide paper and then promoted the DISCOVERHARDY.COM website with all its outdated information.

Library featuring Children’s Wing, Post Office,Senior Citizens Center, Grocery, Restaurants,Motels,Worship, Canoe Rental, B&B’s, Cabins,Hardy Camper Park, Public Beach & Boat Launch, 15 acre Park with Playground,Walking/Biking Trail, Historic Downtown District, Fuel,Hair Care, Banking, Storage & Car Wash,Home Improvement, Real Estate Agencies,Sporting Goods, Antiques, Collectibles, Auto Body, Tattoo’s, Historic Cemeteries, Computer Services, & So Much More…

    could take some of that time and fix the city website! Now that would be good use of time and A&P funding! 

FOR THIS YOUR GRADE IS A  BIG FAT  F

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

National Day Of Prayer In Hardy!

Well, we learned a few things about National Day Of Prayer this year. One, even though everyone else seems to celebrate it on the first Thursday in May, our city approved by permit to hold one right on Main Street on a Saturday during peak business hours

This site reports mainly on the actions of the  City of Hardy, a business of government that should be held accountable for its actions. Actions we believe are not always in the best interest of its citizens and local business. Was this event time truly something that was thought out? Did our City leader even discuss this with the business leaders of our community?

Now, we all approve and agree with the purpose of National Day Of Prayer, but was having it take place on a peak business day on Main Street a smart decision? We have learned that many people who were in town shopping, actually left once the sidewalks were full of those who showed up for the event.

From the NATIONALDAYOFPRAYER.ORG website

 The National Day of Prayer is an annual observance held on the first Thursday of May, inviting people of all faiths to pray for the nation. It was created in 1952 by a joint resolution of the United States Congress, and signed into law by President Harry S. Truman. Our Task Force is a privately funded organization whose purpose is to encourage participation on the National Day of Prayer. It exists to communicate with every individual the need for personal repentance and prayer, to create appropriate materials, and to mobilize the Christian community to intercede for America’s leaders and its families. The Task Force represents a Judeo Christian expression of the national observance, based on our understanding that this country was birthed in prayer and in reverence for the God of the Bible.

This diversity is what Congress intended when it designated the Day of Prayer, not that every faith and creed would be homogenized, but that all who sought to pray for this nation would be encouraged to do so in any way deemed appropriate.

It is important to note that the Nationaldayorprayer organization also states this one IMPORTANT VALUE that many need to take note of and remember.

  • Respect all people, regardless of gender, race, socio-economic status or creed (Mark 12:31)

With that said, we still must ask ourselves this one questions, Why is it that the City seems to completely ignore the fact that our City and especially its Main Street merchants are a important part of Hardy and its tourism….maybe a closer look at the A&P Budget and it’s financials will help shed more light on what vision our City has. It seems no one really has a good clear vision for Hardy.

 

Hardy Arkansas A & P Procedures Unclear

We are blessed that our city has a special commission specifically for the Advertisement and Promotions of our City! This is called the Advertisement and Promotions Commission. This is based on a special tax sometimes called a “hamburger tax”. We had requested information from City Hall in regards to theA&P By-Laws and any purchasing and bidding procedures in order to make our readers aware of any special procedures.

Unfortunately, our response from City Hall was not very clear. What we received was a simple three sentence response on non-letterhead paper that read:

The A&P Commission is not ruled by “by laws”.

The commission is governed by LAW. Municipal Law 26-75-601.

All contract procedures are in compliance with municipal law for cities of the second class.

This response to our question only left more questions in regards to how those interested in making any formal request for funding through A&P are to proceed. Other cities have specific forms to fill out and present to the A&P board. We asked for the procedures and got no answer other than what was stated above.

In a report from Mar. 2007 from an independent review of the A&P commission of Little Rock a special committee made some very good recommendations.

They stated these top three recommended additions be made under summary fact:

  • by-laws,
  • long-range planning,
  • and ethics rules that are necessary for organizations entrusted with collecting and spending public money;

It appears that our own City of Hardy should themselves realize that they too should recognize the importance of these simple three stated facts and look toward making that part of the A & P Commission policy here in Hardy, Ar. It should be a no brainer to take these steps to ensure that the funds provided to the A&P are not only spent properly, but those who could benefit from the use of funds in events and promotions can understand how to go about making a request.

We looked into the Municipal Law 26-75-601 and its purpose is summarized below:

By state legislation, all HMR funds shall be used:

1)for advertising and promoting the city and its environs

2)for the construction, reconstruction, equipment, improvement, maintenance, repair, and operation of a convention center

3)for the operation of tourist promotion facilities in the city

4)for personnel and agencies necessary to conduct the business of the A & P commission

HMR funds can also be used for:

1)for funding the arts

2)for operation of tourist-oriented facilities

3)for construction, reconstruction, repair, maintenance, improvement, equipping and operation of public recreation facilities and for the payment of bonds.

Taxes shall not be used for:

1)general capital improvements within the city

2)costs associated with general operation of the city

3)general subsidy of any civic group or chamber of commerce

The A & P Commission may contract with any group to provide actual services that are connected with tourism or conventions.

The problem is without having specific by-laws, ethics and long-range planning..then you have too much opportunity for abuse. Already, as you can see it is not easy to even get a straight answer in regards to making a presentation to the commission. What is needed is specific forms and procedures publish for those interested…that is not to much to ask!

Across the state, A&P commissions have abused their power while acting within the guidelines of Ark. Code Annotated (ACA) § 26-75-601 through ACA § 26-75-618 (the Advertising and Promotion Commission Act). Three of the most notorious examples are:

·         Little Rock – http://www.arkansasonline.com/specialreports/lrbureau/story1, http://www.arkansasonline.com/specialreports/lrbureau/story1, and http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:22FzWrH9MWkJ:www.arktimes.com/blogs/arkansasblog/2006/12/uncontrolled.aspx+arkansas+a%26p+commission&cd=33&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

·         Benton – http://www.bentoncourier.com/content/view/110805/27

·         Forrest City – http://thnews.com/node/13153

We believe that Hardy Arkansas needs to reviewed before it too ends up doing the same, if it hasn’t already!!!!!!!!!

Where Are The Parking Signs?

(THIS STORY FIRST PUBLISHED DEC. 2, 2010  SIGNS STILL NOT INSTALLED!)

 This is just another evidence of very poor planning by the A&P committee as we’ll as the current Mayor who over sees this board/budget group. Why would you budget only for the poles and not include the cost also  for the parking signs. If you do not have the ability to also budget the signs themselves then what is the purpose?  It has been over three months since the poles were erected, without the signage for them.

One Of The 8 Poles With No Sign

It would seem that other items could have been planned with the available funds and put off the signs and the poles until the full amount needed could be included in the budget. It is like having a new beautiful car, but with no engine. What is the point, it serves no purpose. Now it isn’t that it is so bad, it is just one more obvious point of planning done by the A&P board that demonstrates how poor decisions are being made and planned.

If they can not even properly budget in and plan for this very simple task then imagine how they have wasted and poorly planned with advertisement in other areas too!

Lets all hope that they quickly learn and start to plan for the future better. Wasted spending with poor results only hurts the tourism in Hardy. This is something that we all cannot afford. A&P is about the local parks and should be about attracting tourist as even admitted by the Mayor on her own personal site.

“Yes it is true the the A&P tax is geared toward tourists that come to our city, not toward local residents.” – Mayor Thornton

If you are tired of seeing, or better yet NOT SEEING the signage and want them completed. We suggest you contact City Hall and voice your opinion today!

For this action we give a:

C

  for effort

Taking Out The Trash – Just Got More Expensive

Happy New Year, and well, time to pay up more for local trash pickup. The city council Dec. 15, 2011 had a “special meeting” ,they seem to use those often to rush stuff through the system, voted to pass a increase on the area trash service of $5 per month.

“We’ve discussed this in the past,” Mayor Nina Thornton said, “we have not had a raise in 7 years on the trash so we looked at it again to find a rate at which we wouldn’t have to raise it again for maybe even another 7 years.”  After some discussion, the Mayor then brought Ordinance 2011-6, “Ordinance Setting Commercial and Residential Trash Rates”, up for a vote under the emergency clause, stating that the above ordinance being necessary for the City of Hardy to make payment, this ordinance is requested to be in full force from and after Jan. 1, 2012. Ordinance 2011-6 was passed unanimously and the meeting was adjourned.

We only ask, why this could not have just as easily been part of the regular city council meeting business? It is not like this just came up out of the blue! Certainly they were aware of the short fall way more in advance then a last minute meeting. But, it is normal for our local City to do business this way.

I wonder how come they didn’t think about taking that into account on the 2011 budget? Then again, many things on that budget were never done as scheduled. Why, you may ask? We wish we knew, but getting answers from our local government is not simple or easy to do.

Let’s hope they are HONEST when they say with this new rate they will not have to pass another increase to the citizens for hopefully seven more years! Anyone want to bet on that?