For Arkansas, the snow and cold of February, 2021, will go down in the record books – literally! According to the National Weather Service, “A historic Arctic Blast led to numerous record cold temperatures from the 14th through the 21st.” Record low temperatures were set in Hot Springs for 6 days between the 14th and the 20th, including -3 degrees on February 16th. “There was also one and half to two feet of snow in central and southern Arkansas.”
Hot Springs Village was right in the thick of it, making do with what we have. According to the Hot Springs Village web site, explorethevillage.com, “unlike communities that get pelted with snow every year, Hot Springs Village does not have a large arsenal of snow-removal equipment, because it would be very expensive and rarely used.” In fact, for the past several years, we have enjoyed mild winters with no snow at all.
But the Village does have some snow plows, as seen in these photos courtesy of the POA. As for “making do with what we have”, well, we have a bunch of great employees who often put our needs above their own. According to the story on the Village web site, “Our dedicated staff has been working in shifts and will continue non-stop until all of our roads have been plowed.”
There were actually two heavy snowfalls back-to-back, dumping over a foot of snow in total on our curvy and hilly roads over a three-day period. And our snow removal crews kept on plowing the main roads and sanding the hills and curves, while our first responders were kept busy helping stranded motorists, and residents and visitors in need.
Police Lt. Gary Vaughan reported that his officers helped stranded motorists get home after having to leave their cars along the side of the road; picked up a hospice nurse and took her to her patient’s home; safely recovered a man who had fallen in a ditch while clearing snow from his driveway, when neither he nor his wife could manage to get him up; and delivered food and medicine to snowed-in residents. He added that one officer even gave food from his own home to visitors who were stranded here. These are just a few examples from the more than two dozen reports Lt. Vaughan submitted.
That’s the real story for the Village Employees Benefit Fund: POA employees dedicated to the residents of the Village, helping in any way they can. The outstanding service provided to us by our employees was often recognized on the Nextdoor web site. Many Villagers use this service to exchange information, and were quick to recognize and thank the workers who braved extreme cold and deep snow to render assistance.
“I called the fire department for suggestions on how to move a frozen water barrel off my faucet…within an hour, an HSV fire department rescue truck arrived (with three firefighters), moved the barrel and turned my water on at the meter. God bless these wonderful guys!”
“A huge shout out and thank you to the Village police! I have a nightly rental and had guests that got stranded. They were able to place an order (for groceries) over the phone with Brookshires, and the HSV police picked it up and delivered it to the house!! What an amazing place we live in! Feeling extremely blessed and grateful!!”
“Just want to give a shout out to ALL POA STAFF. All departments pitched in during this snowy, sub-zero week…special thanks to police, fire department, roads department, and water department…they’ve been out in sub-zero cold and deep snow keeping the Village running and answering calls for help…we owe them genuine gratitude, better salaries, and patience as they work through the weekend to maintain our water and complete clearing our roads, and continue to act on our behalf.”
Understanding the on-going nature of the snow emergency, according to the Village web site, Sous Chef Laci Dickson and Food & Beverage Manager Bryan Garrett opened up the kitchen and dining room at the DeSoto Club for four days, to feed a hot meal to their colleagues who came inside to warm up from single-digit temperatures.
Hot Springs Village POA Human Resources Manager Kim Massey was there to help, as well. “My ‘a-ha’ moment came in seeing the commitment from our employees to ensure the job got done – no complaining, a lot of laughter and warm greetings among employees who were all trying to do the best job for the property owners and keep each other safe. I witnessed a true sense of team among employees, and that was refreshing. The jobs they do are often thankless, in horrible weather conditions like this week, but they tackle the work head-on and move forward. So many kudos!”
We are reminded that it was just such a weather emergency in the winter of 1999 that caused three Village residents to come up with a way to thank the POA hourly employees for the hard work and dedication they also demonstrated back then. Out of that conversation, the Village Employees Benefit Fund was started.
So, how can you, as a resident of Hot Springs Village, thank our workers for the jobs they do? We really don’t see many of these folks on a day-to-day basis, to walk up to them and say “thank you” for keeping the water plant running, for hauling away our garbage and yard debris, for grooming our golf courses, for maintaining our lakes and trails, performing welfare checks, and for the hundreds of other chores that need doing in a community of this size.
Well, that’s what we, the Village Employees Benefit Fund, are here to do. We are your voice to our employees. We will use your cash donation combined with donations from hundreds of your neighbors, to maintain a fund dedicated to providing a nice year-end “thank you” cash gift to each full-time and part-time hourly employee and their hourly line managers.
Please consider saying “thank you” right now to our dedicated employees. Make a secure credit card donation using the link below. We’ll add your donation to our fund to ensure that our employees and their families receive the thanks they deserve.
My hat is off to Norman Fordham, who did the navigating of sanitation routes during the snowstorm while we drove a truck with a snow plow. Not sure if I would have rode with myself in the navigator seat. The dog walkers really ran fast to get out of the way when staff plowed by! All three snowplow trucks and the road grader ran hard and made great progress to keep roads cleared.
The effort by staff from all departments has been monumental, and I can’t say thanks enough to the grader operators (Ron, Johnny, and Junior), and the sanitation and street staff who worked day and night for the whole week. Assistant Superintendent Joseph Stadler pulled out staff and equipment from ditches all week, and helped coordinate sand trucks to support emergency services. Joey even managed to pull the grader out of a ditch, which was a huge feat.
I also saw firsthand how our emergency services, PD and FD, worked seamlessly to provide aid to residents, mail carriers, moving vans, etc., while coordinating with the street department for plowing and sanding where it was needed to help folks safely get on their way.
Building maintenance managed some creative solutions for the frozen roof drain system at the Ponce de Leon Center, and the outdoor sunshade screen at the Ponce Golf/Mulligans restaurant, superbly. Due to our gasoline shortage, the Golf Department provided gasoline to the Utility Department from Desoto Golf maintenance. Golf also supplied 4 maintenance workers to ride on the back of rear loading sanitation trucks to help sanitation get caught up.
The Utility department overcame frozen controls and broken pipes to maintain our water system at full capacity. HSV was never without water. Lift station staff, Wesley Maness, responded promptly to home grinder pump calls, and maintained our lift stations, while meter techs turned off water meters for homeowners with broken pipes.
Administrative and Utility staff Jason Blake, Amber Johnson, Vicki Noles, and Brenda Cameron, answered phone calls the entire weekend during the snowstorm.
All obstacles were overcome and great customer service was maintained. All HSV staff made up a great and high-performing team, and we should all be proud of how well all of the HSV departments worked well together during the momentous inclement weather event.