CATHY HARDIN HARRISON
Miller County Judge
Cathy Hardin Harrison currently serves the citizens of Miller County as their County Judge. Cathy first ran for an elected office as Miller County Tax Collector. “My employees and I achieved much success in the collector’s office where we re-organized and developed new policy and procedures that resulted in collecting over a million additional dollars in delinquent taxes,” Cathy says.
Cathy says that she has been fortunate and blessed to achieve her lifelong goals and fulfill her responsibility in several other occupational positions before running for County Judge. “I sincerely strive to be the very best that I can be in any position I am in,” Cathy says. “I thrive at attempting to do it right and pleasing the customer, regardless of the position I am in.
Cathy has a long list of accomplishments that she is proud of from her time in office. She is proud of Smith Park. They have installed seven culverts to get it out of the flood zone, created a pollination garden and Quail Habitat, and added restrooms and showers. She is proud of the renovation of the courthouse and grant acquisitions that put a new roof on the courthouse. She is proud to have built new bridges on MC 41 and MC 10 and raised a 300-foot section of MC 29 six feet. She is proud of the new community center, new sidewalks at the courthouse, and various grants for the Volunteer Fire Departments. “We’ve also upgraded equipment at the road department and updated and purchased new 911 equipment. We’ve also met and corresponded with Federal and State personnel that has led to grant funding,” Cathy says. “We’ve also started a network of sharing resources with other counties.”
Some of Cathy’s long-term goals are to restore and upgrade the courthouse inside and out and continue receiving grants for our bridges and roads and bring them forward as much as her budget will allow. “I also want to continue to drive Miller County into the 21st Century by continuing to update software and the implementation of an HR Department so that all employees are treated equally,” Cathy says. “In addition, I hope to continue to find more resources for our Volunteer Firemen and Emergency Management and seek higher salaries and benefits to retain and attract county employees.”
Cathy says that one of the most memorable moments in her career hasn’t actually happened yet. She wants to see the complete restoration of the Miller County Courthouse. “When the pipes broke in February of this year, it was complete chaos trying to get the county offices relocated and set up for business. Now when we return to the building, we will be going back to a restored courthouse, and it will be well worth all the headaches,” Cathy says. “I am especially excited about the restoration of the two courtrooms and lobby areas.”
For Cathy, the most important thing is not disappointing the citizens of Miller County. “They elected me and continue to support me in this position. Four generations of Hardin’s have been born and raised in Miller County, and I want Miller County to be the best in everything,” Cathy says. “Because of my roots here, I am harder on and expect more of myself than anyone else could.”
Cathy has had several struggles throughout her career, but for her, the obstacles brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic were probably the worst. In the beginning, getting the supplies (PPE) needed for the first responders and getting the COVID tests were tough while also trying to keep 200 plus county employees calm and at work. “Keeping the courthouse open to the public was also a major concern. The county government in Arkansas is a political subdivision of the state. You can’t shut or lock the doors to local government,” Cathy says. “We are blessed to live in a community where folks step up and help their neighbors. It took all of us working together to get through it. The pandemic made me get out of my comfort zone by making me speak publicly on a regular basis. I have never really liked public speaking, and I still don’t, but I now know that I can face my fears while continuing to move forward.”
When Cathy is not at work, she enjoys spending time with her family. Cathy is married to Bob Harrison, and together, they have five children: Todd, Teranne, Josh, Stanley, and Morgan. They also have two grandchildren: Megan and Sophia. “Folks that have lived in the area any length of time know my husband as Chief Harrison,” Cathy says. “Bob retired earlier this year from the Texarkana Arkansas Police Department (TAPD). He worked his way through all the ranks and served about 26 years as Chief of TAPD.”
Cathy and Bob attend Beech Street Baptist Church, and Cathy currently sits on six local boards, including the REDI Board and the Southwest Arkansas Mental Health Board.“ I was also honored to be appointed to the Arkansas Supreme Court Security and Emergency Preparedness Committee,” Cathy says.
Though she really looks up to her father, Jimmy Hardin, there are several local individuals that Cathy looks up to. “When I have questions or need advice, I contact them because I know they will steer me straight, sometimes telling me things I don’t really want to hear. It’s important that I’m not surrounded by people who regularly agree with me but instead provide other viewpoints and opinions I wouldn’t have thought of on my own,” Cathy says. “I have come to appreciate the fact that you will always make better decisions and continue to grow as a person by being open-minded. I’m not sure who said it, but I have heard this advice all my life: ‘Any job worth doing is worth doing right.’”
Cathy believes that big changes are coming soon to Texarkana on both sides of the state line. “With the development of the ARTEX REDI Group and the commitment of its founders, it WILL happen. The wealth of knowledge and their generosity is unprecedented. I am constantly learning,” Cathy says. “I am also excited about the new entertainment districts downtown. The downtown area continues to grow every year, and not being able to find a parking space downtown on Friday night is truly exciting. You must admit it’s a sign of a prospering community! It’s a blessing to see folks walking up and down our city streets.”
In the end, Cathy wants to be remembered as the very best County Judge Miller County has ever experienced. “It is an honor to be the first female elected County Judge in Miller County and currently the only elected female county judge in the state, but to me, gender does not make the person successful,” Cathy says. “Doing what is right, having a servant’s attitude, and satisfaction of accomplishments is how I want to be remembered.”