Chief Keith Hillman of the Vilonia Fire Department, told the Vilonia City Council Tuesday night he is anticipating more vehicle accidents, and he is trying to "get ahead of the game."
Addressing the council, Hillman said the department has just completed one fundraiser and has planned another with a goal to purchase additional extrication equipment in anticipation of the bypass opening. While it will route traffic around the city of Vilonia, accidents will still fall inside the jurisdiction of the department.
"Accidents are up on the highway already," Hillman said. "It’s going to be like another interstate, and we will be seeing more accidents. I’m just trying to get ahead of the game."
Hillman spoke briefly about recent fatal accidents. He said the department has responded to 328 runs compared to ending the year in 2009 with 302 runs.
While no action was taken concerning a purchase at the meeting, Hillman told the council $11,500 had been raised as a result of a photograph and a spaghetti supper and silent auction is set for Oct. 7.
On another note, he said Air Evac Lifeteam, based in Vilonia, resumed service Monday following a crash of a chopper that killed three crew members.
In the absence of Mayor James Firestone, city recorder/treasurer Doris Scoggin conducted the September council meeting. Also absent was alderman Sherry Clements.
However, there was a quorum with the allowing the council to approve the hiring of Tom Sweeney to serve as a new police officer replacing Jeremy Brown. Making the request, Chief Brad McNew said Sweeney, who was present, is a "local kid who grew up here. We all basically watched him grow up and this is where he wants to work. We thought we would give him a shot."
It was said that Sweeney is currently only part time certified.
The only other action taken by the council was the approval of purchasing equipment to be used at the ball fields including new bases at five ball fields at a cost of about $1,250 and pitching machine wheels at a cost of about $125.
Representing the Vilonia Sports Association, Greg Lewis requested the council’s attention concerning the purchases. He also requested immediate action concerning electrical repairs and the installation of a fence around the soccer fields. Scroggins read a report from Firestone saying those two issues are in the process of being handled.
In a report to the council, Lewis said the VSA has a new board of directors including Kieth Hinson, president, James Thompson, vice president, Renee Jackson, treasurer, Marie Land secretary and Michelle Bass, fundraising.
Commissioners of each sport stayed the same, he said, including John Alexander, baseball; Michael Johnson, soccer; Chris Phillips, flag football; David Rieder, softball. However, it was said that Rieder has submitted his resignation and a search is on for a new softball commissioner.
He also reported on the fall sports program. Soccer has about 120 children enrolled playing games every Saturday. Flag football has about 45 children playing games every Tuesday and Thursday. Soccer is offering "pay at the plate" for the fall where teams sign up a few days in advance to play on Saturday. Fall baseball had low participation due to football, he said.
• Vilonia Area Chamber of Commerce. Debbie Townsend, president, invited the council to attend a political forum beginning at 6:30 p.m. on Monday to be held at the Vilonia Senior Citizens Center. This town hall style meeting, she said, is open to everyone to meet and greet with candidates for local, county, and state races. Each candidate will be given a 10 minute time slot to speak about their platform for the upcoming race, she added.
She also said a Chamber Expo allowing the showcasing of businesses is set for Oct. 26. And, a new slate of officers will be announced at the November business meeting to be installed in Jan.
• Sewer dept. Alderman Joe Maxwell said there was no meeting this month.
• Scroggin read a brief report concerning the progress of the Sidewalks to School project saying it appears to be progressing well. Also, it was said that a generator should be installed at the senior citizens center by November and work on lighting at the tennis courts at the school should be completed by the end of October.