By LINDA HICKS
SPECIAL TO THE LOG CABIN
VILONIA — When Mayor James Firestone travels state Highway 64 Business, which runs through the middle of the city of Vilonia, he recalls the landscape before the tornado hit April 25, 2011. His visions include the site of old oaks, maples and gum trees lining the way.
“One of the biggest changes now, two years later, is the landscape,” he said. “I have lived here all of my life and the landscape is really different. It took out a majority of the big, old trees.”
Many residents “have a hole in their hearts over the trees,” said resident Dave Boling, who is also an employee of the Arkansas Forestry Commission. “People around here are a little sentimental about the trees.”
The two met Tuesday at Vilonia City Hall with members of the Arkansas Urban Forestry Council where it was announced the city of Vilonia has been chosen as the site of this year’s Arkansas Re-leaf Project.
The AUFC council, according to Kyle Cunningham, council president, selects a community every year with specific tree damage and comes in to give them a helping hand. Specialists will be coming to Vilonia in March and planting trees at the ball field — one place where several trees were damaged and destroyed.
In coordination with the planting, an Arbor Day celebration is set for 11 a.m., March 16, with entertainment and free hot dogs. The public is invited to attend. It is anticipated, that in conjunction with the event, about 100 potted trees will also be given away to home owners as well as many bare root seedlings.
The event will be the kick-off for Arkansas’ official Arbor Day, which is the third Monday of March.