The Vilonia City Council, Tuesday night, took another step forward exploring the regulating of one trash company to service the city.
A 4-2 vote by alderman, trash pickup services providers, with an interest to serve Vilonia, will be asked to provide a bid package under a proposed assumption their company would serve as the sole provider. Discussion, Mayor Firestone fielded questions from the audience and the council regarding the particulars should a trash service be regulated.
"Everyone in the city would have to use it," Firestone said. He touched on possible benefits for residents including a significant reduction in the cost as well as the possibility of additional services.
"It could be as much as half the cost," Firestone said.
A couple of audience members spoke against such a "mandated" move. Resident Glen Clements said "I don’t need a trash service. I don’t see you forcing something on me that I don’t need at all."
Another side of the issue, Don Smith said, "I try to support the businesses in Vilonia. I don’t want my money going outside and not help the small businesses in the city of Vilonia."
Alderman Jim King, spoke in favor of continuing to explore the idea. Anytime, he said, something new is proposed there will be some "complainers," adding that it is a concept worth exploring before a decision is made one way or the other.
Council members Sherry Clements and Skip Cates cast the two nay votes. Some residents, Clements said, don’t use a trash service and they shouldn’t be mandated to do so. Those residents, she said, chose to compost, burn and recycle.
Speaking with residents, Cates said, he has learned that "10 to 1 are against it."
"Some can’t afford it. Some take it to work," he added.
In conclusion, Firestone said prior to any decisions, town hall meetings will be held as well as more research will be done.
"By no means is this a done deal," he added. "If this is not a good deal, we don’t have to take it."
•The council approved spending $5,467 for replacing storm damaged canopies at the park. Firestone also said the city had received $27,500 in grant money to be spent for the park.
•Fire Dept. Chief Keith Hillman said fire runs are up in the city over the same period last year with 85 runs.
•Planning commission. Fred Fowlkes, city engineer/building inspector, said the building of a facility to house Vilonia Therapy Services was approved at the January meeting. The February meeting, to be held Thursday night, includes the Entergy Sub Station site plan, the Entergy conditional use permit and Mt. Olive Rd. annexation.
•Police Dept. Chief Brad McNew introduced a new police officer, James Sellers, to the council. His hiring was approved at the January meeting.
•Parks and Recreation. Greg Lewis, Vilonia Sports Association recreation manager, said that about 500 children are signed up to participate in baseball and softball with a combination of 47 teams. "It’s the largest group ever," he added. He complimented the city on the "hard work" they had put toward the park. Also, he said, VSA had about $5,000 leftover from the 2011 program and plan to put it back into the program. He also made a plea to the city to think about purchasing additional land for fields.
•Chamber of Commerce. Jill Bonnema, executive officer, said 17 new businesses have joined since January. Renewals, she said, will be accepted through March 15. The chamber will present four $500 scholarships, she said, this year to Vilonia seniors.
She also announced the annual Chamber banquet will be held April 21, with several awards presented to "center" around those who helped during the tornado.
She also touched on the activities involved with the Royalty Pageant to be held March 10, at the Primary School.
•Code enforcement. Fowlkes said there have been 9 building permits issued in 2012 with five being new residential, two additions and two storage buildings. He said he has performed 15 building inspections.
•Senior Citizens Building. Alderman Art Pischke said the annual fundraiser, Skip Bo, Rook, Texas Hold’ Em and Dominoes tournaments will be held March 26-27 and 30. It was said March 29, will be excluded due to a circus being held in the city. The circus, however, is a fundraiser for the Lions Club and will be held on school property.
•Firestone reported on his attendance at a Monday night meeting of the Museum of Veterans and Military History which will open this year in Vilonia. "There’s been a tremendous amount of work going on there," he said. "It is going to be a nice addition to our community."
Audience member Sue Gallahar, Museum Brigade member, shared information regarding a "soft opening" to be held for community members on the afternoon of May 20, Armed Forces weekend.
•Cathy Riggans, principal of Vilonia Middle School, shared news that fifth and sixth grade VAST students, will be partnering with the city, working under Master Gardener Mary Wells, to beautify an area at the city park. Riggins said the school has received $3,500 in the form of a service learning grant to help with the project. The project, she said, will allow the students to learn about civic appreciation.