Conway Co. boards endorse name change

The board of directors of the Morrilton Area Chamber of Commerce and the Conway County Economic Development Corporation (CCEDC) have both passed a resolution asking the State Parks, Recreation and Travel Commission to reconsider its naming of a planned new building on Petit Jean Mountain.  

The Commission has decided to name the new facility after Richard Davies, longtime director of the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism. Citing the importance of Dr. T.W. Hardison to the opening of Petit Jean State Park and to Morrilton and Conway County, the resolutions ask that the Commission retain “Hardison Hall” as the name of the new facility.  

The Commission plans to replace Hardison Hall, a group lodging facility opened in 1949, with a new facility that will serve as a tourist information and conference center and administrative headquarters for park personnel. Demolition of Hardison Hall is scheduled for later this year, immediately followed by construction of the new facility.

“It’s hard to overstate the historical significance of this one man,” said Jerry L. Smith, president and CEO of both the chamber and the CCEDC. “Just think of all of the state parks we have across the state – Petit Jean may have been the first, but they all owe their existence to the state and national efforts of Dr. T.W. Hardison, the undisputed ‘father of Arkansas state parks.’”

To emphasize how strongly they felt about the issue, each member of the CCEDC board signed the resolution.  

“Our department of parks and tourism is among the best, if not the best, in the nation,” said Smith. “We so appreciate and applaud all that they have done to implement and enhance Dr. Hardison’s original vision. This one issue won’t make or break anything; it’s just the right thing to do.”