At the February 2 Governmental Affairs Committee meeting, Hot Springs Village General Manager Kelly Hale stressed that voters must vet political candidates and determine which ones are concerned with the village’s needs before casting their votes. In addition, Hale gave the committee a storm and golf course update and mentioned groups that are organizing activities during the weekend preceding the total solar eclipse.
Ask candidates, ‘What will you do for the village?”
We have a lot of voting going on in and out of the village in the next few months. Hale said when he speaks to village groups, the biggest message he has been conveying is to ask the candidates, “What are you going to do for the village? What specifically?’ Hale said he had listened to some candidates, and they talked about everything but the village.
Before voting, voters should determine, “Who is a real friend of the village?” Hale said many people care more about what is happening in the state and should be concerned about what is happening in their own backyard.
Hale stated, “I spent a lot of time researching how the state constitution aligns with where we’re at as a community and how we can get some additional support.” Hale believes that only a few small changes, such as a comma and a few words, are needed in state documents so the village can receive state financial help with village infrastructure needs.
Hale said that every community in Arkansas is battling the same thing – repairing water and wastewater systems. Millions need to be invested. “We deserve a fair fight, like every other community in the state of Arkansas does. We pay our taxes. I am trying to figure out a way to get a portion of that back. I don’t want to touch the [school] mill tax. That money belongs to our children and goes to the schools. We have the best schools in the state of Arkansas, and they enhance our community.”
Hale feels the village has received great support from the political leaders attending the GAC meetings.
“You will not get change if you do not go out and work at it,” emphasized Hale. He said this has to be tackled in a logical and level-headed way. He said the angle of “You owe it to us,’ has gone on for fifty years and hasn’t worked.
Hale said we have a different business model and different needs than any other community. It is important to determine what politicians have supported the village’s needs.
Hale said that if you go 50 miles outside the village, people know we exist but can’t tell you anything about us. “Not a doggone thing. When you describe to them how we are treated versus other communities, the response is, ‘That doesn’t seem fair.'”
Hale said the village needs to find a way legally and verbally to correct the problem with the state constitution. “We have to get it changed.”
Hale said we are facing two or three decades of deferred infrastructure needs. “We are making it up now, very quickly. I think you can look around and see the progress going on. But there are some big ticket [items] that will show up on our doorstep in the near future that we cannot ignore any longer.”
If you want to know what is happening with the village infrastructure, Hale strongly suggested attending a Public Services Committee Meeting. “We are as transparent as all get out if you just get up and go look,” Hale stated emphatically.
January storms caused no damage to POA buildings, but village roads and trees didn’t experience the same fate.
The village is in the process of cleaning up from the January storms. Hale said we believe we had microbursts early in the morning on January 12. We lost 80 trees on Coronado Golf Course. Healthy, 20-foot-tall pines snapped like toothpicks. There were 80 to 90 miles per hour winds, and we were very fortunate to incur no damage to POA facilities. At one home, every pine tree within 50 feet was laid down, but the home appeared undamaged.
The combination of cold temperatures and moisture that occurred during the recent inclement weather events has caused a lot of potholes in the village and also throughout the state. We are filling the potholes, but some road areas require repaving. There is a stretch of road at the intersection of Ponce de Leon Drive and DeSoto Boulevard that we superpaved. This failing surface is like a laminate, and it is peeling off. Hale said, “We can only patch it so many times.” Hale said repaving this intersection will be a major project.
At a recent Common Property, Forest, and Wildlife Committee Meeting on Monday, January 5, Superintendent David Harper estimated that there may be around 500 trees affected by the storm, and more damage is being reported daily.
Hale said they pulled over 300 vehicles out of ditches in four days. Many folks are from areas where snow and ice are common, but they haven’t driven on ice in the mountains, which is unique.
Keith Keck, Saline County Quorum Court Judge, said that between 7:30 a.m. and 10:00 a.m., Saline County 911 received 180 calls on the morning of the ice storm.
Work occurring at Isabella Golf Course is proceeding even better than anticipated. “I was out there in the past two days. Staff is putting sand back in the bunkers at Santa Maria, which is a huge cost-saving for the village. The original bid for this project was $2.2 M. We are redoing cart paths for all 27 holes, drainage, and “the whole kit and caboodle for about $600,000.”
“That is two down. We are not done yet. They [staff] are on a fast pace to get that done. They are already halfway through Pinta, tearing the old bunkers out.”
Hale said he is super excited anytime we complete a major project because it improves the community’s home values. “That is what we are looking for,” expressed the GM.
Hale said Hot Springs Village realtors are having a big event on the weekend preceding the eclipse. Balboa church also has activities going on at Balboa Beach. “We’re going to have fun!” stated Hale.
Hale said the POA and village first responders met with businesses and other interested parties in early January. Click here to read the article “Who flipped the light switch!”
Hale asked villagers to refrain from viewing the eclipse from the golf courses.
“That is my two cents. That is my soapbox as a member of this community. You all know that as General Manager, I operate as a community member and say what is on my mind. But that is where I am at right now.”Kelly Hale, General Manager of Hot Springs Village POA
By Cheryl Dowden
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