Issuing a proclamation, Tuesday night, Mayor James Firestone and the Vilonia City Council has declared April 7, Arkansas Gives Day in Vilonia.
"We sure know the importance of helping others," Firestone said, making the presentation. The proclamation references a 12-hour online giving event, hosted by the Arkansas Community Foundation in partnership with the Arkansas Nonprofit Alliance. The event, the proclamation said, is "focused on helping to raise awareness of and strengthen Arkansas nonprofit organizations by encouraging our entire state to donate on a single day." It is a day, the proclamation said where citizens work together to share commitments, rally for favorite causes, build a stronger community and think about other people."
There were representatives of Arkansas Gives in the audience including Gloria Cheshier, executive director, Arkansas Community Foundation/Faulkner County, Frank Mitchell and Wes Craiglow. Cheshier explained that on April 7, the public will be able to give online from smartphones, tablets or personal computers by going to ArkansasGives.org, choosing their favorite organizations and making a credit card donation. In addition to the value of their gift, ArkansasGives donors will help the nonprofits receive a portion of the bonus dollars and help them compete for additional cash prizes from First Security Bank that will be awarded to the organizations that raises the most individual donations and most total dollars. Faulkner County, she said, has some friendly competition going with Hot Springs (Garland County).
There are 39 nonprofits from Faulkner County, she said, including:
ArkanPaws Animal Rescue, Arkansas Coalition for Obesity Prevention, Arkansas Preschool Plus, Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre, Arkansas SINGLE PARENT SCHOLARSHIP Fund, Bethlehem House, Inc., Blackbird Academy of Arts, Boys & Girls Club of Faulkner County, CARTI Foundation, Children’s Advocacy Alliance, Children’s Tumor Foundation AR Chapter, Community Action Program for Central Arkansas, Community Connections, Community Service Youth Foundation, Conway Cradle Care, Conway EcoFest,, Conway Regional Health Foundation, Conway Symphony Orchestra, Deliver Hope Inc., EAST Initiative, Faulkner County Council on Aging, Inc., Faulkner County Museum, Faulkner County SPCA, Friendship Community Care, Glenhaven Ministries, H.A.V.E.N., Independent Living Services, Life Child, Literacy Action of Central Arkansas, Museum of Veterans and Military History in Vilonia, Quapaw Area Council - Boy Scouts of America, Renewal Ranch, Soaring Wings Ranch, Soul Food Cafe Mission, St. Joseph School Endowment & Charitable Trust, The City of Hope Outreach, The Locals (Faulkner County Urban Farm Project).The Zambia Project, Women’s Own Worth.
In other action, Firestone removed a request for the city to purchase a sign to be placed on the Vilonia Disaster Recovery Alliance building. He said he plans to check with the Arkansas Municipal League prior to addressing the request. Although the city owns the building, he said, he doesn’t believe the city can pay for the sign denoting the non-profit.
Other business included reports from city entities:
Fire department. Keith Hillman, Vilonia emergency management director, said the fire department has been participating in live fire training at the new burn tower. Also, he said one firefighter has recently graduated from the fire academy. In addition, he said, footers and concrete is anticipated to begin this week on the new tornado shelter for city employees. Firestone touted the praises of Hillman and K.C. Williams, assistant EM director, for overseeing the shelter project.
Also, serving in his capacity as code enforcement officer, Hillman said, building construction has slowed down with the wet weather. However, he said, he completed five inspections last week. In addition, he asked for and received the council’s approval to move forward with contacting owners of unsafe houses in Vilonia that, he said, need to be demolished due to being hit by either the 2011 or 2014 tornado. The first step, he said, is to send letters to the owners.
Police. Chief Brad McNew said three computers have been installed in the department. Also, he said, they are working on the department’s policies and have made a few changes and clarified others. More than 400 pages, he said, will be ready for review prior to the next city council.
Parks and Recreation. Allin Crawford, director, said registration is complete for the summer season for youth baseball and softball with 370 enrolled to play. More than $25,000, he said, has been collected in registration which will go back into the program for equipment, maintenance, utilities and umpires. At the softball complex, he said, the field work is complete. Yet, he said, the main walk needs to be poured from the concession area to the fields. At the baseball complex, he said, work has been delayed due to rain.
Currently, he said, he is in the process of hiring part-time workers for the season and building score tables for the softball fields. The credit/debit card reading machine for the concession stand is set for the softball and soccer fields. He also announced that Chick Filet sandwiches will be available, this season, at the concession stand. Also, he said, temporary fencing is around the smaller players’ soccer fields and work is going on regarding fencing the rest of the fields.
The first games will begin the first weekend in April. Vilonia is hosting the 8 and under softball preseason tournament. There are 72 teams in the alliance group this year, he said, in softball.
Voting is underway regarding a parks and recreation logo winner. The winner, he said, will be presented at the April council meeting, he added. A grand opening weekend is planned in May to showcase the fields, Crawford said, where the city will host a kickball tournament for the Jerry Roberts/Wayne Hartness Foundation for Scholarships.
Chamber of Commerce. Fred Fowlkes, chamber president, reported on the recent chamber banquet which had the largest attendance ever.
The Museum of Veterans and Military History, 53 N. Mt. Olive, in Vilonia is having a Military Fest and Military Vehicle Show from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., April 2. The event is free to the public. Also, the museum is hosting a Support Ride-In, sponsored by the Combat Veterans motorcycle organization, April 23. Firestone said he will be riding in the event.
The Vilonia Senior Citizens Center will be holding their annual Rook, Domino, Skip-Bo tournament April 4-8 at the Vilonia Senior Citizens Center. Rook will start April 4, and the domino and Skip Bo tournament will begin April 5, beginning at 6 p.m. each night. Food will be also be available for a monetary donation beginning 5:15 p.m. Entry fees are $25 per game and $40 for two or more games. For information, call 796-4680 or 796-3703.