Residents and business owners in Vilonia are eligible for lower insurance premiums thanks to a better rating awarded to the Vilonia Fire Department.

"We have good news from the fire department," Mayor James Firestone announced Tuesday night at the Vilonia City Council. On that note, Firestone read a letter from Chief Keith Hillman saying the department is now at a Class 3 rating inside the city limits and a Class 5 outside the city limits effective Dec. 1. Prior to the new rating, the department was a Class 6.

"We should see a sizeable decrease in premiums," Firestone said.

The fire department rating is based on the ISO’s Fire Suppression Rating Schedule factors including how fire departments respond to fires, training, water supplies, how 911 dispatches firefighters and equipment. Fire departments are classified from 1 (being the best) to 10 (not meeting ISO standards). The lower a department’s rating is, the lower fire insurance premiums will be for residents and business in the county, who buy insurance from companies that rely on ISO’s data.

Firestone also talked briefly about the fire department’s plans to build a two-story training facility, acquire a car fire simulator and set aside a training area. A related subject, it was said the fire station on Fire Station Rd., will be closed and equipment be moved back to the central station.

In other business:

• Firestone signed a proclamation declaring Sept. 17-23 as Constitution Week.

• The council approved a resolution regarding the purchase of 18 acres on N. Mt. Olive, at $6,000 per acre from resident Charlie Weaver, to build a new ball park, soccer complex and a facility for the street department. Originally, the city approved the purchase of 17 acres. After the survey, Firestone said, the acreage has gone up one acre to include an old fence line. The three acres, Firestone said, will be designated for the street department and will provide a place for a facility to be built where equipment can be housed. The additional 15 acres will go to the park complex.

• The council approved also approved a resolution regarding a land trade between the city and Weaver involving acreage on Stanley Rd. and the city’s old waste disposal site. The land trade will provide property for a police training facility to be built on Stanley Rd., Firestone said.

• The council awarded a project to WK Contractors in the amount of $105,186.50 to demolition of the wood bridge on N. Church Street and the installation of a concrete bridge. Bids were opened Aug. 16, Firestone said, with three bidders. The project will also include the widening of the street to Highway 64. It was said that WK Contractors is a local company.

• Briefly discussed other paving projects for other streets including S. Church, North, Wicker, Oak, Elizabeth and Amanda. Firestone said S. Church will be a major project, with the paving only to cost between $95,000 and $100,000, and is included in next year’s plan.

• Vilonia Area Chamber of Commerce. Jill Bonnema, chamber executive officer, reported on the Business Expo held last week. About 140 people, she said, attended with 11 businesses setting up booths. Other announcements, she said a political forum is to be held at 6:30 p.m., Sept. 24, at the Senior Citizen’s Center. As well, she said the date for the Winter Royalty Pageant is to be held Sat., Nov. 17.

• Senior Citizen’s Center. The center, according to Alderman Art Pischke, was closed for three days last week in order for floor maintenance to be done.