VILONIA — The Vilonia Area Chamber of Commerce has their sights set on placing signage denoting the city. It’s time, according to board members, that a plan is formalized.  A few years ago, the chamber began a fundraising campaign to place signs at the three entrances to the city. With more than $8,000 in that account, board members discussed Monday night that perhaps it is the time to step up the planning process and formalize the three locations as well as the designs while being mindful of the new bypass. 

"I think we need a plan — a formal plan," said board member Camille Baugh, broaching the subject with the board. Other board members also appeared to be in agreement. The discussion ended with president  Debbie Townsend asking those in attendance to "get their ideas together." As well, she encouraged them to snap photos on their travels to other cities providing some samples for comparisons. 

"We need to do some research and get some ideas of costs," Townsend said. "I have no idea how much it will cost."

The chamber is close to reaching their goal of raising $10,000 toward the costs.  They are hoping to acquire sponsorships and apply for a grant to go toward the project.   

In other business, the board approved the Faulkner County Democratic Women as a new member. 

Discussion included:

• It was said that two positions are open on the board. There was a brief discussion concerning the resignation of Sharon Messer. Townsend suggested sifting through the membership list for potential board members. "We need some new blood on here," she said. A vote is to be held at the November membership meeting with officers taking office Jan. 1.

• It was said the chamber will "probably not be partaking" in Bargains Galore on Highway 64 next year renting booths although they raised more than $600 this year. It was said the area used for renting booths at the First Assembly of God Church on Highway 64 will more than likely not be available to the chamber next year for the fundraiser. 

• Reviewing bylaws and rewriting scholarship guidelines. Committees have been formed, it was said, for the purpose.

Committee reports:

• A political forum is set for 6:30 p.m., Sept. 27, at the Vilonia Senior Citizens Center. The forum is open to all candidates and most have been contacted, Townsend said. Refreshments will be served and all ages are encouraged to attend.  The school will be notified and some classes are anticipated to attend.

• The Fall Business Expo is to be held Oct. 26. Volunteers are needed to help with the event. The location has not been confirmed.

• The annual chamber banquet  is set for Feb. 19, at the high school cafeteria with Walt Coleman confirmed as the guest speaker. 

A football theme, Townsend said Coleman is a "strong speaker with a good draw."

Coleman is an American football official and has been in the National Football League (NFL) since 1989. He worked for the Arkansas Activities Association, the governing body for high school athletics, for 14 years before moving up to the college level. His college officiating career includes five years in the Southland Conference (Division I-AA) and five years in the Southwest Conference (Division I). 

He lives in Little Rock and is a fifth-generation family operator of Coleman Dairy.

• The Vilonia Royalty Pageant is set for March 5,  pending the state basketball tournament date. A location has not been announced. A growing pageant, the board discussed possibly moving the pageant to a Conway venue, however, no decision was made.  Last year the pageant was held at the Vilonia Primary School. 

Under new business:

• The chamber will hold a joint meeting with the Vilonia Lions Club, at 11:30, Sept. 15, at Big Ben’s restaurant. The guest speaker will be a representative from Little Rock Air Force Base.

• There was discussion concerning the cooking of funnel cakes and selling of sno-cones at the Vilonia High School home football games. 

"Since Sharon (Messer) resigned it left a hole in the funnel cake and sno-cones," Townsend said. The board plans to do some research and recruitment in order to continue forward with the fundraising project.