It’s been almost four months since the April 25 tornado, and residents should be nearing completion on the cleanup, according to the Vilonia City Council. 

"It’s unfortunate about the tornado," Alderman Sherry Clements told her peers Tuesday night during the August council meeting. "But it’s been long enough now. We need to step up and clean up."

Clements called for a citywide cleanup "moratorium" and the assessment of fines on those who disregard it.  Driving around the city, she said, one can see properties sitting untouched and houses that have been abandoned. She also talked about piled debris, properties grown up with grass, burned-out houses and safety issues. 

There are so many properties along Highway 64 as well as other areas that are not cleaned up, she said. Citing safety issues, Fire Chief Keith Hillman backed Clements in support of cleaning up the hazards.  He said burned-out properties and abandoned houses are an open invitation to children.

The council authorized Clements to work on the moratorium project. Hillman agreed to help with the identification and notification regarding safety issues. It was said that if the moratorium is approved, property owners will be contacted and asked to present a "plan of attack." While a time frame has not been approved, council members discussed a 120-day time frame for clean-up.

"Six months is more than reasonable," Clements told the council. 

On a related matter, she also requested the council members be provided information regarding insurance coverage on city buildings and equipment for review.

"I had rather be over insured than under insured," she said. Mayor James Firestone agreed and said the figures would be forthcoming for review. 

Other business, the council unanimously approved the purchase of a shredder/mower attachment for the city’s track hoe at a cost of $8,750 plus a freight fee of $400. It will be allow easier mowing in the ditches and on roadways, Firestone said.

Reports of Board and Committees:

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ire department. Hillman said inspection of businesses started last week. Some follow-ups, he said, are in order. Also, he said, the department’s annual portrait fundraising event is underway with a representative going house to house asking residents to participate. The proceeds, Hillman said, will go toward the building of a rescue trailer that will be equipped and ready for responding during an emergency situation. Also, there will be an open house at the fire department Sept. 10, he said, with hot dogs and hamburgers served.

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olice department. Chief Brad McNew told the council it was a quiet weekend for the department considering what generally happens during Bargains Galore on 64. The department, he said, didn’t work a wreck.

"There was not near the volume of yard sales or traffic," he said. The rain, he predicted, may have discouraged some from attending.

on. Greg Williams of the VSA, received the council’s nod of approval to allow youth soccer to be played at the city ballpark. Currently, he said, about 25 players are signed up for fall play.

There was a brief discussion concerning the "plan of attack" to repair the park damage resulting from the tornado. Firestone said the city is still "dealing" with FEMA. It was also said that public fundraising efforts have been successful. Firestone said between $30,000 and $40,000 has been raised and will go to the repair.  Also, Firestone said, he has accepted an offer from the city of North Little Rock to let some of that city’s electricians help with electrical work. Council members expressed their gratitude regarding the help.

V. Jill Bonema, CEO, said 11 businesses participated this week in the Business Expo held at the Vilonia Teacher’s Breakfast. Also, she said about $700 in gift certificates was given away during the event. 

She announced the chamber will be hosting a political Town Hall Forum at 6 p.m. Sept. 26 at the Senior Citizens Center. The public is invited.

Recycling efforts will be held the second Saturday of each month in the city hall parking lot, Firestone said.