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Updated: Sep 12, 2019

On January 28, 2015 a ground breaking ceremony for the future homes that are being built by Habitat for Humanities on Green Valley Loop in Vilonia Arkansas was held. People, business, and organizations present at this meeting included Mayor Firestone, Vilonia Disaster Recovery Alliance (VDRA), First Security, Centennial Bank, and Habitat for Humanities, Vilonia Chamber of Commerce, Apostolic Christian World Relief volunteers, United Methodist Committee on Relief, Charlie Weaver, Channel 7 News, and other city and municipal staff.

Shenel Sandidge, Executive Director for Habitat for Humanities, welcomed everyone and stated that the homes on Green Valley loop were just the beginning of the 40 homes that are expected to be built for the recovery efforts in Vilonia.

The homes on Green Valley Loop are being built with the help of volunteers from the Apostolic Christian World Relief organization. Members of the organization stated they have had the best hospitality while in Vilonia and are blessed to of had the opportunity to help with the recovery efforts. Habitat for Humanities and VDRA plans to build a total of 40 new homes for tornado survivors that lost their homes due to the tornado that occurred on April 27, 2014.

Partners included Vilonia Disaster Recover Alliance, Apostolic Christian World Relief, Catholic Charities, United Methodist Committee on Relief, and United Way.

#homes #VDRA #Vilonia #HabitatforHumanities #rebuild

Updated: Sep 12, 2019

Mayor Firestone asked the Local Disaster Recovery Manager, Devin Howland, to speak at the City Hall meeting on January 20th, 2015 to discuss the recovery efforts to date. Devin explained how he ended up working on this recovery, going back to his initial efforts with the Economic Recovery Support Function which was activated under the National Disaster Recovery Framework. A broad overview was presented of the efforts on behalf of Metro Plan, Gateway, IEA-UALR, and UACDC, and an explanation of how all of the entities were working in sync with one another to put together a one of a kind product.

The importance of Economic and Community Development was brought up, and Devin explained this was a chance to control the growth coming to Vilonia. He stated “This is your chance to control that growth, if Walmart comes- we need to tell them where to locate- not the other way around”.

Updated: Sep 12, 2019

On January 9, 2015 The Arkadelphia Benchmarking tour had city and municipal staff and residents travel to Arkadelphia and met at the Arkadelphia Chamber of Commerce hoping to benefit from that city’s experience. A tornado ripped through Arkadelphia March 1, 1997 killed six and injured more than 100. More than 260 businesses being damaged or destroyed. It was stated that downtown was 99% occupied when the tornado came through.

Mayor James Firestone and Mayor Randy Holland touched on the particular damage to their cities. After discussion, the Mayor of Arkadelphia stated her efforts for development were heavily funded by grants. She stated grants have taken up to a year to write and submit. However, even though grants take time, they are worth it because at the end, certain developments help keep the city from having “leakage”. It was suggested to encourage residents to shop in their own cities rather than “leaking” the money to other areas and to turn to their legislatures for surplus money. The Arkadelphia group said they have invested heavily in themselves—looking at their strengths and building on them.

The city and municipal staff will take the knowledge gained from this meeting and apply it toward the recovery efforts in Vilonia and Mayflower.