Preparing for potentially severe weather, the Vilonia City Council took measures Tuesday night to have all of the city’s tornado sirens repaired and serviced.
The council approved paying $1,800 to Goddard Enterprises of Edmond, Okla. for servicing the sirens. Making the request, Fire Chief Keith Hillman said, "there’s one (siren) down and he can fix it. He comes twice a year and repairs and services them. If there is something that breaks, he fixes it.
Mayor James Firestone asked about the time frame for fixing the inoperable siren.
"My concern — it’s not long until severe weather," he said. Hillman said he would contact the company this week and set up a time as soon as possible.
The sirens, Hillman said, are being tested every Wednesday. He also said when the sirens go off the doors automatically open on the new safe room recently built at the high school. When school is out of session, residents have access to the facility in the event of a tornado.
Other action taken by the council:
• Hired Steve Carpenter as a full time police officer at the recommendation of Chief Brad McNew.
• Approved the city’s 2013 proposed budget. Firestone said the numbers were based on the actual budget from 2012.
• Approved a contract with the Vilonia Sports Association for 2013. Firestone said the only change from last year’s contract is the date. Making mention of an increase in student participation, Alderman Jim King said he was in favor of renewing the contract because, "well, they are doing a good job."
• Approved a contract with the Vilonia Soccer Club for 2013.
• Tabled action regarding the Vilonia Area Chamber of Commerce contract for economic development. A few minutes of discussion, it was said additional information will be requested regarding the budget amount. Last year, the council paid $2,000 for the services.
• Tabled a request by resident Charles Burgess regarding a sewer hookup. With no representative in the audience, the council will ask for additional information. There was some discussion as to whether the property involved is located on property outside the city limits.
• Approved an agreement for professional services with Fred Fowlkes, city engineer, building inspector and code enforcement, for design services regarding the building of a new park. Fowlkes’ current contract with the city, Firestone said, does not include the design services that will be required on the building project. A monetary figure for the services was not discussed.
• Approved a contract with WK Contractors in the amount of $30,240 for removing and replacing the bridge on North Street.
• Adopted the 2011 Arkansas Energy Code "which is all about saving energy," Fowlkes told the council. Under the new code, he said there will be more energy efficient standards for new construction of all buildings. Builders and contractors will be required to sign off saying they will be operating under the new code.
• Fire Department Hillman said firefighters raised more than $4,000 during the recent Boot Drive, a little less than raised by last year’s drive.
Also, about 300 residents were fed while attending Breakfast with Santa. The event, sponsored by the department, was free to the public.
• Planning Commission At the last meeting, the commission approved a couple of measures helping to pave the way for expansion projects in the city, Fowlkes said.
The commission approved a lot combination for Harps Grocery store allowing three tracts of land to become one with one owner. Property involved includes the Sheriff’s Substation, owned by Centennial Bank. The land housing the substation, according to preliminary plans is to become a parking lot, Fowlkes said. Preliminary plans also call for the substation to be placed in an office to be built onto Harps.
In other action, the commission also reviewed a request from Kim Tyler of Tim Tyler Surveying and Mapping, Inc., and approved Phase 2 of Eaglebrook Estates. It was said the action involves 11 lots, 10 "buildable residential lots."
• Code enforcement Fowlkes said there have been two building permits issued since the November meeting. However, he said 15 to 20 houses are under construction in the city.
• Police Department McNew talked about ongoing training saying officers have received about eight hours of "hands on training" each in recent weeks. He also predicted the training facility, being built on Stanley Road, will be completed in a month or so.
Also, McNew introduced two auxiliary officers Cory Mize and Chris Stacks. The two, McNew said, have volunteered their services and worked about 178 hours during the past four months saving the city money.
• Vilonia Sports Association Trey White, vice-president of the VSA, said signups for spring baseball and softball will begin Jan. 1. Practice games will begin the first week in March and games the first week in April. He reported on the new board which includes Brian Lane, president; White, vice-president; Marie Land, treasurer; Jack Casey, secretary; Angie Spradlin, fundraising coordinator; Joe Forthman, baseball commissioner; John Alexander, softball commissioner and James Russell, football commissioner. The board meets the second week of the month.
Inquiring about the new park, Firestone told White the city has closed on purchasing land for the new park which is currently in the design phase.
• The city hall will be closed Dec. 24-25 and Jan. 1.