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Vilonia officials return to work

Posted: April 30, 2014 - 8:22pm
STEWART COLE STAFF PHOTO  Damage is seen in Vilonia on Monday, the day after a tornado destroyed much of the city.
STEWART COLE STAFF PHOTO Damage is seen in Vilonia on Monday, the day after a tornado destroyed much of the city.

Officials in the Vilonia area are putting the pieces back together and placing plans into action.

Vilonia City Hall was bustling Tuesday as volunteers filed in and out requesting information and direction. Employees were using their personal cellphones to conduct city business. City clerk Kelly Scroggins Lawrence and her co-worker Amanda Norwood appeared to have most of the answers.

It is more than likely going to be awhile on restoring land lines for telephone services, Norwood said. They were also signing up volunteers and directing tornado victims regarding relief efforts.

Scroggins was handling matters involving the displaced employees who were left jobless due to the tornado. She said about 90-percent of the businesses in the city are shut down. The Arkansas Department of Workforce Services, she said, is set up at Beryl Baptist Church for the victim’s convenience.

The Vilonia Water Department has been closed with building damage. Vilonia Water Board member Howard Williams, said the water department plans to set up a temporary office at the current water works facility. It is anticipated it will be operational by Monday, he said. “We are not going to concentrate on office activities until then,” he added. “We are keeping the water on, and we will keep it running. We aren’t now and we don’t anticipate being under a water boil order.”

The sewer department housed in the city hall is fully operational. Payments and questions regarding the sewer services may be addressed at the office located in the city hall. Also, there is a drop box outside the city hall for sewer payments, sewer department officials said.

A few businesses were in operation including J&D Supply, the Valero, the Big Red Station, the Sonic, the Tobacco Shop and Himmler’s Medical Clinic.

Patients with business at Himmler’s may call 796-8484 for service.

City council member Jim King set up a mobile office of sorts in the parking lot of Beryl Baptist Church. At the request of Mayor James Firestone, he said, he is basically running errands and helping with any issues that might come up.

“I know everyone and I know the area really well. I have been driving around and seeing what is needed where and coming back here and as volunteers show up, I send them out,” he said. He also talked about the outpouring of help.

“We have volunteers galore,” he said. “And Saturday, I don’t know how many hundreds are going to be here helping. I’m not turning anyone away though.

There is debris everywhere. When you are out in the middle of a pasture picking it up, you may only be able to carry three or four items at a time.”

That may seem like it is less important than some other jobs but it is something that has to be done and is very important, he said. He anticipates many personal items will be found by those helping in that area.

He also talked about some needs. The Black Oak area, he said, has residents who speak little English. “Some have been huddled not knowing what to do,” he said. On that note, a Spanish speaking school employee, he said, has stepped forward to take care of their needs. “We are fortunate to have her,” King said. He also talked about other “good citizens.” He said strangers are walking up to him giving him money. “I feel blessed to help and that I am trusted to get the money to the right places.”

King wears many hats in regard to his service to Vilonia. He is an Assembly of God pastor and the Vilonia Citizen of the Year.

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