VILONIA — The Vilonia City Council is making plans to launch an attack against stray dogs in 2011.
At Tuesday night’s meeting, Mayor James Firestone appointed a three-member committee to formulate a "plan of attack" regarding stray dogs running loose in the city.
"I have received numerous calls on stray dogs," Firestone said.
One man, he said, broke his collarbone as a result of a bicycle accident with dogs involved. He talked briefly about the city’s current ordinance which addresses stray animals. Yet, he said, it has no teeth in it for actually handling the issue. He asked for volunteers to form a committee and "go to the county level" to explore avenues that may be available.
"We need to try to come up with some way to deal with the stray animals," he reiterated.
Aldermen Kathy French, Art Pischke (to be seated in January) and Jim King were appointed to serve on the committee which is anticipated to meet early in January.
Also, during the last meeting of the year, the council tied up several loose ends and addressed a variety of other issues including:
• Approved the city’s 2011 city budget with a projected income of $1,389,322 and expenditures of $1,364,237. The 2011 proposed budget, Firestone said, is $55,000 higher than the 2010 proposed budget. The budget includes the following budget figures $21,314.55 street department; $69,100 parks and $487,622 police department. It will allow an additional paid position in the police department. The police department will begin accepting applications in Jan. 2011 to fill it, according to Chief Brad McNew.
• Approved the 2011 park contract with the Vilonia Sports Association. Firestone said the only changes from the 2010 contract has to do with utility charges. Under the new contract, he said, during a VSA tournament the organization will be required to pay $100 per day and $175 per day and night play. Also, Firestone said, the new contract clarifies the field light usage. The lights are to remain on no later than 10 minutes after a game. And, on practice nights, which are limited to Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, the lights must be turned off by 9 p.m.
• Gave Firestone the nod to turn to an expert for help regarding a floor problem in the city hall. Firestone said that glue is leaking through the tile. The required buffing to remove the glue, Firestone said, is buffing off the face of the tile. Firestone said $11,000 remains in the building fund and it may be necessary to spend it to solve the problem.
• Approved the purchase of a new digital communication system for the police department at a cost of about $52,000. The new system will allow the police department to be in "continual communication with the county," McNew told the council. The money will come from the police department’s carryover money (which has been turned back) from previous years. It was said the department would be required to have the system in place by 2013 and doing so now could save money in the long run.
Committee and board reports
• Fire Department. Reviewing a written report submitted by Chief Keith Hillman, the council approved the purchase of a radio controlled device and installation, at a cost of $2,500, on the storm sirens at the old city hall.
On another note, Allin Crawford, a voluntary fireman, addressed the council regarding a proposed emergency operations plan. A recent graduate of Arkansas Tech with a four year degree in emergency management, Crawford said he volunteered his time and has created a plan for the city which is currently being reviewed by Firestone. The plan covers everything from terrorism to managing volunteers, Crawford told the council.
"I spent several months putting this together," he said. "It’s very important to keep this constantly updated."
On that note, Crawford recommended the council consider hiring an emergency management coordinator.
Firestone thanked Crawford for his efforts saying he had done an excellent job. Firestone also said he knew the plan was a critical tool for dealing with disasters.
• Planning Commission. Fred Fowlkes, city engineer, updated the council regarding the commission’s November action which allowed the work to go forward on building a Fred’s Store in the city. Also, he announced the date for the next commission meeting to be at 7 p.m. Dec. 30. On the agenda, he said, will be consideration of the Ridge wood Farms Phase II final plat.
• Police department. McNew told the council he plans to provide comparison numbers regarding the department dating back to 2002 at the next meeting. He did not elaborate on details.
• Vilonia Area Chamber of Commerce. Jill Fowlkes Bonnema, chamber CEO, said membership renewals have been mailed. The VACC’s annual awards banquet will be held at 7 p.m., Sat., Feb. 19 in the high school cafeteria. The guest speaker is Walt Coleman of Coleman Dairy, who has also served as an NFL referee for about 21 years. Two-hundred tickets are available at a cost of $25 each. About one-third of them, Bonnema said, have been sold already. The chamber board, she also said, is currently taking nominations for citizen of the year, youth of the year, business of the year, school employee of the year and city employee of the year. The deadline for nominations is Jan. 7. The forms are available online or at the chamber office.
Also, she announced plans for the third annual Vilonia Royalty Pageant to be held in April.
• Vilonia Sports Association. Keith Hinson, VSA president, received the council’s nod of approval to place temporary signage announcing spring registration for softball and baseball, which begins Jan. 4 with a registration deadline of Feb. 19. Also, the council approved the purchase of three pitching nets, two for baseball and one for softball, at a cost of $670. Hinson also requested the city to bury electrical lines out the mound on fields 3,4 and 5 preventing the stretching of extension cords across the base paths.
• Code enforcement. Fowlkes said that "it has slowed down on building permits but it was pretty good," with a total of 56 including three in November and two in December.
• Sewer department. Alderman Joe Maxwell said they have a full crew at the sewer department with the recent filling of an entry level position.
Firestone said the city hall will be closed Dec. 23, 24 and Dec. 31.