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Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Information Limited on Monticello Man’s Fishing Death

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

Johnny Donaldson, age 68, of Monticello, died in the waters of Big Bayou Meto, southwest of Gillett, Tuesday morning.

According to the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, Donaldson, died Tuesday, around 11:30 a.m, when he apparently fell into the water, near a floodgate, near the Arkansas river.  No one knows how he fell into the water.

Donaldson, who was fishing alone that morning, was best know in Monticello as a contractor, and as owner of several apartment complexes.

Monticello’s Stephanie Harton Featured on CBS Morning Show

Monday, November 8th, 2010

Stephanie Harton operates the weigh station for Potlatch, and provides the weather forecast for for their drivers.

Her “dream job” was to do the weather on the radio.  Thanks to the CBS morning show’s “Dream Job” series, that dream came true.

Last Friday, Harton was featured on the CBS Early Show, where she wasa shown broadcasting the weather on The Point 94.1.  She also got to go do the weather at KTHV Channel 11.

Stephanie told MonticelloLive, “The most fun I had was doing the afternoon show with Mike Kennedy and Sharpe Dunaway the past couple Fridays, I wish that was my full time job.”

One dead, others injured in wreck on Thursday

Friday, April 13th, 2007

One Monticello resident is dead, and two others are injured after a one-vehicle accident in Drew County yesterday.

According to a report by the Arkansas State Police the accident occurred at 12:48 p.m. on Midway Route in Drew County. The report states that a 1999 Mercury Sable driven by Don Simpson, age 18, of Monticello was traveling north on Midway Route at a high rate of speed. The driver lost control after over-compensating for a curve, and the vehicle left the roadway and overturned multiple times. All three passengers were then ejected from the vehicle.

Also injured in the accident were Steven Piper, age 34 and Austin Piper, age 4, both of Monticello. According to the State Police report Simpson was pronounced dead at the scene by a Drew County coroner. The other passengers were transported to Drew Memorial Hospital and Austin Piper was later transferred to Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock. The report states that no seatbelts or child restraints were in use by any of the occupants. According to officials at the Arkansas State Police, toxicology tests results are pending.

Monticello radio stations sold

Tuesday, April 10th, 2007

In another large media sale, Monticello radio stations KHBM, KGPQ, and KXSA owned by Community Radio Network were purchased recently by Pines Broadcasting Inc., owned by Jimmy and Gwen Sledge. The sales prices of the stations was $1.05 million, according to the broadcastingcable.com site. In a letter to advertisers and businesses, Jimmy Sledge stated, “We have retained all of the employees at the stations, and we appreciate your patience during this time of transition of ownership.”

Pines Broadcasting announced that it plans to provide more local news, weather, and sports, as well as offering six different music formats to listen to on the stations.

Sold! Cablevision

Saturday, March 31st, 2007

It has been confirmed by MonticelloLive that Community Communications Company, better known as Cablevision, has been acquired by former general manager Bill Copeland.  Discussions have already begun on upgrades and the addition of new services.

Cablevision provides cable television to 27 South Arkansas communities and both cable television and high-speed Internet services in Monticello. Cablevision was founded in 1973 and was owned by the late Paul Q. Gardner, Jr. until his death in June 2006. His widow, Donna Gardner and sons, Chad Gardner and Paul (Chip) Q. Gardner III, assumed control of the company at that time.  Community Communications Company still remains the largest independently owned cable company in Arkansas.

An official press release has been promised by the new management, and MonticelloLive will publish it as soon as it’s released.

Two-year old drowned at Monticello Speedway

Tuesday, March 27th, 2007

On Saturday night, March 24, Faith Reed, two-year old daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Chris Reed of Rison, AR, died after drowning. Her death is the result of an accident on a Polaris Ranger four-wheeled ATV. The accident occurred at Monticello Speedway in a resevoir used for watering the dirt track.

The incident is currently under investigation by the Drew County Sheriff’s Department.

Other News Sources:

Twenty meets with congressional leaders

Tuesday, March 6th, 2007

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Monticello leaders of Twenty for the Future had a busy morning today as they met with four different congressional leaders in the span of four hours.

While Representative Marion Barry was unable to meet due to scheduling conflicts, the group from Monticello met with his chief of staff as well as with Congressmen Mike Ross, John Boozman, and Vic Snyder.

Bennie Ryburn III was the spokesman for the group in all meetings today as he shared Twenty’s eight-point priority list. The group received a positive welcome from the delegation, and the congressmen pledged their support in many of the projects.

Representative Mike Ross said, “It’s a done deal, as far as I’m concerned,” in reference to the need for a north-south connector from Highway 278 to Jordan Drive to alleviate traffic around the hospital and schools.

Representative John Boozman said, “We’ll help you in any way we can.”

Members of the Congressional delegation and their staff remarked consistently what a positive impact the Monticello group is able to make by having such a large group of concerned civic, business and educational leaders present to advocate the needs of the community.

MonticelloLive is proud to present you with the podcast from the group’s meeting with Representative Mike Ross today:

Pictures of Tuesday’s Washington activities can be found here.

Dumas hit hard by tornado

Saturday, February 24th, 2007

Early reports coming out of Dumas indicate that a tornado touched down and left a path of destruction through the community. Volunteers from the Monticello Fire Department and other organizations left Monticello shortly after the line of severe weather passed through Drew County to lend assistance. Unconfirmed reports are that there many have been some fatalities in Dumas. Dumas is located in Desha County and has a population of 5238, as of the 2000 census.

Monticello police officer injured in hit and run

Monday, January 29th, 2007

The Monticello Police Department responded to calls at approximately 1:30 a.m. Monday at Connelley and Gaines where initial reports indicated fights had broken out at the Chocolate Factory.

During officers’ attempts to bring order, Monticello police officer George Strain proceeded to the street to apprehend one of those involved in the fights, Christopher Smith, 18. While on the street, they were both hit by a car driven by McGehee resident Keshia Daniels’, 26, as she left the location.

Officer Strain incurred significant injuries and after being initially treated at Drew Memorial Hospital was transferred to Jefferson Regional Hospital in Pine Bluff. His injuries are not listed as life threatening. Smith was also hit and suffered a severely broken leg. He was transferred to the University of Arkansas Medical Center in Little Rock for treatment.

Daniels was arrested in McGehee an hour later for the hit and run.

Council abolishes Parks and Rec Commission; approves pool repairs

Friday, January 19th, 2007

The Monticello City Council met last night with a long list of topics to tackle, including the city pool issue. After much discussion, the Council voted unanimously to continue the repairs and replacement of the liner with contractor Kenny Johnson for a new contract price of $268,083. The original contract was for $242,585 but Mr. Johnson reported that once the project began it was discovered that “the pool is sub-standard construction-wise”. His concern is having to warranty the job for a year, wanting to be confident in the work he’s done. At $268,083 Mitch Rose, the engineer representing the city from McClellan Engineering, projects 5-10 more years use with the current restoration. At this cost, the liner will be replaced with upgraded material, some pipes will be replaced, the diving board will be repaired, a working drainage system will be installed, and the pool lights will be checked and replaced if needed. Alderwoman Sherrie Gillespie asked why the city keeps pumping so much money into the upkeep and maintenance of the old city pool, but was told that this is the first major renovation in the life of the pool, since 1993.

Another major decision reached on the initiation of new Mayor Joe Rogers was his proposal to abolish the city’s Parks and Recreation Commission. Extensive discussion followed this proposal. Rogers responded to Tim Chase’s statement that the city office was taking on more responsibility than they’ve ever had before by saying, “I take full responsibility, 100%”.

As part of this responsibility, Rogers proposed that the city’s Parks and Recreations Commission be done away with, leaving him in control of this area with an advisory board. The Parks Commission has been in place since 1998, serving the community by completing projects such as park improvements, a new baseball complex, a sports complex, among other things. Nevertheless, the Council voted 6-1 with Tim Chase opposing, to grant the disbanding of the Commission.

Just before the meeting adjourned, Parks and Recreation Commission chairman Steve Hartness was given the opportunity to speak. He wanted to voice his concern over the issue and let it be known that the Commission had worked diligently within the boundaries established for them, and that he didn’t understand the decision.

Hartness stated, “Everything we have done has been upfront. I have come to you for two years with budgets and laid it on the line for the city council to approve or disapprove. We’ve accomplished a lot in the past five years. I’m proud of what we’ve done. I’m a little disappointed tonight. I wasn’t considered important enough to even know about this except through the grapevine.”

The mayor argued that he had left a message with Hartness’s wife but Hartness reiterated that he had been contacted at work and on his cell phone on other occasions but wasn’t about the meeting and what was proposed to happen to the commission.

Hartness continued, “There were things in the paper that skirted right on the verge of us being irresponsible with tax money. I hope you don’t think that. I’m not understanding what the difference is in a 15-member advisory board and a parks commission. I’m not understanding how it’s different, other than you’ve got eight more voices or opinions. If something needed done, it’s gotten done.”

He concluded, “I wish ya’ll the best and I’ve enjoyed working with you guys.”

Appreciation for the commission was expressed by Alderwoman Beverly Hudson who said, “I’d like to say they’ve done a tremendous job, and I think that we should thank them for the many hours. I certainly have had no complaints. I think the mayor just wants to take us in a different direction, and we should give him the opportunity.”

Another issue that stirred discussion was the proposal to grant Rogers the ability to approve up to $20,000 in city expenditures without engaging in a competitive bidding process. The previous limit was $10,000. The council also approved that initiative, by a vote of 6-1, with Chase voting against.

Rogers gave his first State of the City address, reading from a prepared manuscript. In it, he stated, “…where others have found persistent problems; let us discover new opportunities.”

Listen to the full meeting on the MonticelloLive-provided podcast here.
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City council meeting report

Thursday, January 18th, 2007

MonticelloLive is proud to provide you with an audio podcast of Thursday night’s, January 18, Monticello City Council meeting:


You may fast forward or rewind through the podcast by dragging the slider.

Results of the meeting included:

  • Mayor Joe Rogers proposed the abolishment of the Monticello Parks and Recreation Commission. Motion passed, 6-1, with Alderman Tim Chase voted against it.
  • Robert Rosegrant was approved as Roger’s selection for Chief of Police.
  • $262,000 of pool renovations were approved after lengthy discussion. Vote for approving renovations was 6-1, with Alderwoman Sherrie Gillespie voting against.
  • A proposal granted the mayor increased authority to approve up to $20,000 in expenditures without accepting competitive bidding was approved by at vote of 6-1, with Chase voting against. The former expenditure level was $10,000.
  • Contractual services to the following organizations were granted for the 2007 year: Monticello Boys and Girls’ Club, Monticello-Drew County Chamber of Commerce, and the Monticello Economic Development Commission.
  • The city accepted a contract with Garver Engineers for airport layout drawing in preparation for the airport’s capital improvement plan.
  • Mayor Rogers delivered his State of the City address.

A full story about the meeting will be posted Friday.

Monticello newspaper launches online edition

Wednesday, December 13th, 2006

The Monticellonian Advance launched an online edition of its weekly newspaper this past week. Located at www.monticellonews.net, the website will be free for the first month, and after that viewers will pay for an online subscription.

According to an article in the Advance publisher Tom White said, “We are pleased to be able to offer on online edition that will make local news immediately accessible to readers who are interested in Drew County happenings – both the local ones, and those living far away,”

“Many of our readers have long been asking for a website, and we have admittedly moved very slowly and cautiously. We have been working on this site for quite some time and we think we have created one of which we can be proud.

“We invite everybody to check it out during the free introductory period, and to keep watching as we work to make it even better.”

Wendy Tassin, advertising manager, told MonticelloLive Wednesday that plans for the online Advance had been in the works for almost three years as personnel selected the right package of services to offer the community from internet providers. The Advance chose Hometown News Hosting to provide the necessary framework for their online edition. The service offers a full features for a subscription-based site as well as services for advertisers.

Monthly MEDC meeting touts MonticelloLive, Monticello Speedway

Friday, October 6th, 2006

As the monthly meeting of the Monticello Economic Development Commission began Wednesday, (it meets the first Wednesday of each month in the UAM University Center Capitol Room) president Benny Ryburn informed those present about MonticelloLive and its contribution to community news and communication. In addition, Ryburn spotlighted Monticello Speedway as a business that is bringing Monticello quite a bit of attention.

“Each weekend, there are between 800-1200 spectators,” Ryburn said. With more than 100 race cars and their crew, the new race track consistently draws folks from other communities and out of state. Races take place every Saturday night from mid-March to mid-November. One night recently featured winners from five different states.

In items of business, it was reported the Monticello’s airport, Ellis Field, was recently classified as a Level 4 airport. This has significant implications for the community and region. Improvements at the field will help attract industries who require air transportation and support. According to the Arkansas State Airport System Plan, a Level 4 airport should strive to provide the following:

  • A primary runway at least 5500 feet long by 100 feet wide
  • Runway should be supported by a full parallel taxiway
  • On-site weather reporting capabilities
  • An LPV approach supported by medium intensity runway lighting and an approach lighting system
  • Pavement strength of 30,000 pounds dual wheel
  • Hangars for 80% of all based aircraft; apron area for all remaining based aircraft and 25% of daily transient aircraft
  • 5000 square feet of public-use space with phones, restrooms, pilot and conference space
  • Jet A and 100LL fuel; self service facilities
  • Full service FBO and aircraft maintenance facilities
  • Access to rental cars
  • An Emergency Response Plan

According to the report, the first round economic impact to Monticello is approximately $824,000. The second round impact is $1,700,400. Total airport impact is estimated to be: 17 jobs, a total payroll of $443,100 and a total economic activity of $2,525,200.

In the director’s report, Director Derrill Pierce related that money has been raised for the needed feasibility study of renovating the old Ridgeway Hotel located on East Gaines. The hotel has been completely cleaned up inside, and the study will help determine “if the Ridgeway can be redeveloped to its highest and best future use from both a construction and economic perspective.” Pierce’s report stated, “The Ridgeway Hotel project is a portion of MEDC’s commitment to revitalization of the inner city, particularly the east side of the community. That revitalization is entirely consistent with the vision of Monticello being created by the Community Design Center in terms of higher density residential development and more pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods.”

In addition, the upcoming one-cent sales tax vote in 2007 was discussed as being key to continuing the development of Monticello’s infrastructure, sports complex, and industrial sites.

Pierce also reported that a strong industrial candidate that had been considering locating in Monticello has decided to locate in Rison instead. Treated Materials Company, which produces telephone and power poles, was offered a package of incentives as well as 30 acres of land for their site by Rison. While the MEDC had offered to match Rison’s offer of 30 acres of land within the industrial park, the “company declined the offer because C&L Electric Co-op is a valued client regularly purchasing electric power poles from the company.”

Treated Materials had expressed a desire to locate on 50 acres north of the Intermodal site on Highway 278. However, the MEDC did not have the financial capability to buy the site from Plum Creek since the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department had paid an appraised price of around $3000 per acre for the I-530 Right-of-Way. The Intermodal Authority paid the same for its 400 acres on the south side of 278. While MEDC offered other types of assistance, it was not able to persuade Treated Materials to locate within Drew County.

MEDC continues to pursue an interested company in the Pacific Northwest as a viable prospect for purchase of and location of their business in the SPEC Building in the industrial park. The wood products company would create approximately 30 new jobs should they decide to locate in Monticello.

Monticello man shot after break-in

Wednesday, September 6th, 2006

Police are investigating a violent break-in in Tanglewood which resulted in one man being shot. Scott Pearson, 34, remains in critical condition. The incident occurred early Tuesday morning.

Two men apparently broke in the Tanglewood residence. The man’s wife was allegedly tied up. KTHV, Channel 11, reported the story in its early news show Wednesday. It is reported that the Pearson children were in the house at the tim and that one child attempted to escape to call police but was unsuccessful. Lt. John Dement of the Monticello Police Department related that after the shooting occurred, Pearson’s wife was able to free herself and call police. Neither child was harmed.

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