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Archive for the ‘Feature: OML’ Category

One Monticello Life: Jesus Christ

Saturday, April 12th, 2008

2 years ago, Jeff told about the life of Jesus, as the One Monticello Life for Easter Sunday. I suppose that featuring my Saviour has become an Easter tration, but if Christ hasn’t become the most important part of your life, he’is there waiting to accept you, as the hymn says, “Just As I Am”.

There’s not a more deserving subject for this week’s feature. Jesus, the One who has changed more lives than anyone else who ever walk on the earth, including mine. After reading, be sure to play the video at the bottom.

May God bless you all. – Joe Burgess


Today is Easter and celebrated many ways throughout Monticello. Children enjoy the candy received from new-found Easter eggs. Spiral ham, mashed potatoes and fresh rolls are served at many family gatherings. Much of this happens after a time of reflection and celebration at one of the 50+ Christian churches in the area. The Holy One that is celebrated on this holiday isn’t a local, but Jesus Christ is found in the hearts of many Monticellonians. This is His story.

Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem, Israel. Roman historians subsequently used the birth of Jesus as the dividing line of history using A.D. (Anno Domini, which is Latin for “the year of our Lord”) to mark the coming of Christ.

picture-2.jpgJesus was born into humble circumstances. His mother’s name was Mary who was of the Israelite tribe of Judah. At best, the circumstances of his birth were complicated. Mary was engaged to marry Joseph, also of the tribe of Judah. Joseph could trace his lineage back to Abraham. Jewish lineage and ancestry was sacred to the Israelites. However, before they were married, Mary confessed to Joseph that she was pregnant but claimed that the pregnancy was a result of news she had received from an angelic messenger. (more…)

One Monticello Life: Sgt. Larry Smith

Sunday, March 30th, 2008


Sgt. Larry Smith, Sr.
Criminal Investigator
Monticello Police Department

I have known Larry Smith for several years, but never really spent much time around him, until my wife’s truck was broken into a couple of years ago, and he worked the case.

When I started covering the Police Dept. for MonticelloLive,  I began to consider Larry to be a good friend.  I, like so many others was shocked to here about Larry’s battle with cancer.  There are a couple of links below that will take you to the story about the wristbands that local police officers are selling, information about the cook-out to help cover Larry’s medical expenses on April 11 & 12, and photos from Larry’s recent plane ride over Lake Monticello. 


But first, here is this week’s One Monticello Life edition, written by Larry’s longtime, family friend, Trish Harvey.


One Monticello Life: Kasey Earl

Sunday, February 24th, 2008


Usually, One Monticello Life is done in an interview type format, but this week will be a little different.

Someone suggested that we feature Kasey Earl a couple of months ago.  When I heard that he was playing at “the Coffee Bean” Friday and last night, I had to go.  It was great. But that’s not all.  Kasey is also the drummer for Gary Meggs & Ezekiel 3:18, who will be featured in the “Branson Comes to Monticello” event tonight.  It’s been a busy week for Kasey Earl, this week’s One Monticello Life.

This weeks edition may be in a different format, but I think you will be blessed by learning more about Kasey Earl.

When I asked Kasey to tell me about himself, and how he got to where the Lord has led him today, he sumed it up this way……


One Monticello Life: Lyle Welch, Southeast Emergency Services

Sunday, January 20th, 2008


On May 12, 2006, Southeast Emergency Services began operation, serving Monticello and Drew County with ambulance service.

SEEMS is owned and operated by Lyle Welch.  He also is a Paramedic. 

Lyle was born, raised, and graduated High School at Arkadelphia.

Lyle attended Henderson State University and became a paramedic on February 21, 1996.  He had taken an EMT class, since he was a member of the local Volunteer Fire Department.  The instructor complimented his work in class, and encouraged Lyle to enroll in the upcoming Paramedic class, that was being taught.  Lyle did, and has been a Paramedic for 12 years now.


Lyle started his EMS career here in Monticello on April 1, 1996 and has been here working on an ambulance in Monticello ever since, with the exception of 6 months he was at MEMS in Little Rock.

He is married to Kim Fenton Welch. They have four children:  Shea Welch, who is planning on starting her junior year of college at the University of Arkansas in the fall.  Tyler Welch, an upcoming basketball star at Emmit High School.  Kayla Fenton who attends Monticello schools.  Jordan Welch, the youngest of the four.

Lyle and his family attend Serenity Baptist Church.

His hobbies include hunting, fishing, and remote control model airplanes.

Lyle is show above with “A.C.”, who arrived at the office a couple of days after SEEMS opened.  Lyle said, “A.C. adopted us. Not the other way around.” 

Lyle’s favorites include:

Restaurant-Young’s on Thursday, “It’s chicken and dumplin’ day.”

TV show-M*A*S*H.

Movie-Days of Thunder.

Actor-Clint Eastwood.

Music-Classic country and today’s rock.  Sometimes “disco” on XM.

Song-Long, Black Train.

Sports team-Excluding Billies, Pirates, Hogs, & Weevils-Dallas Cowboys & St. Louis Cardinals.

Favorite book-A Look At Life From A Deer-stand, by Steve Chapman.

Lyle Welch and SEEMS, another “person behind the scenes” that keeps Monticello going strong.

Click here to go to Southeast Emergency Services’ website. It’ll give you information on what are classified as “emergencies”, as well as info about their services.

Lyle Welch, thanks for sharing your One Monticello Life.

Click here to see the One Monticello Life archives.

One Monticello Life: Darrell & Lee Ann McDaniel Family

Sunday, January 6th, 2008


As i was selecting a good subject for this weeks edition, I realized that there is a family of 5, that will be starting back to school tomorrow, in fact 5 different schools.  That would be the Darrell & Lee Ann McDaniel family.

Darrell & Lee Ann have been married for 25 years, as of last September.  The family is very active in Northside Baptist Church, where Darrell was brought up, and where Lee Ann began attending, when she and Darrell got married.

Darrell was born in Heber Springs, and moved to Monticello in the 5th grade.  Lee Ann was raised in Arkadelphia, until the 8th grade, when her family also moved to Monticello. 

Monday morning, when all of Monticello and Drew Central schools start their 2008 school years, the McDaniels will also go back to school.

All 5 of them, each going to a different school.

Darrell is an instructor at the Occupational Education Center (vocational technical school) for the Monticello School District.  Actually he’ll be teaching the same “Metal Trades” class that he took, when he was attending vo-tech.  Darrell took what he learned in that class, and spent over 20 years working at Burlington as a machinist, before coming full circle back to teaching.

Lee Ann will return to UAM. She works in the purchasing office for the University.  She has been there for 4 years.  Prior to UAM, Lee Ann worked at Bartons

As you’re reading this, Katie, a freshman at UA Fayetteville, is probably already on her way back to school.  She’s working on her Pre-Med major.

Julie, a MHS freshman, plays saxophone in the band, and is in EAST Lab.

Jordan is a 4th grader at MIS.

The family all likes to spend time outdoors, especially around the water.

Darrell’s hobbies include hunting, fishing, and metal craft.

Lee Ann likes to spend her free time reading, gardening, or watching NASCAR.

Katie spends her free time on the phone, according to her mom, when she should be studying.

Julie’s favorite past-times include reading and playing video games.

Jordan likes hunting and fishing, like his dad, and killed his first deer this year.  Jordan spends any free time he has harassing his older sisters (just ask them).

The family pets include Buddy, the dog, and 9 cats.

Usually now is the time in the interview when I ask about “favorites”, so this week will represent the family’s “combined” answers.

Their favorites include:



Movie-Toy Story and Santa Clause movies.

Music-Lee Ann likes contemporary Christian music and the family usually listens to country.

Favorite actors & books-Too hard to agree on.

Favorite songs-Amazing Grace and Sweet Beulahland.

Favorite sports teams-Billies and Hogs.

Monday morning, as we are all getting back in the habit of “school”, remember the McDaniel family.

5 family members, 5 different schools.

Thanks to all of the McDaniels, for sharing your One (or 5) Monticello Life.

To read other editions of One Monticello Life, Click here.

One Monticello Life: Sharon Hancock, Young’s BBQ

Sunday, December 30th, 2007


Young’s Bar-B-Q has meant “lunch” to Monticello residents for decades.   The local restaurant has been chosen as Monticello’s “Best Bar-B-Q” for 7 years by the voters in the local newspaper, as well as having won “Best Lunch Buffet” and “Best Country Cooking” several times, along the way.

Sharon’s mom & dad, Ben & Cleo Young, sold Bar-B-Q out of their grocery store from 1954 until 1983.

In 1989, Sharon and her husband Billy Joe Hancock, re-opened “Young’s Bar-B-Q”.  They ran their “take out only” business in the back of the building, where Mr. Ben’s Bar-B-Q pit had remained.

In 1996, they moved the business into the front of the building, and opened a full service restaurant.  In July of 2003, the business burned and closed for a brief time.  But the Hancocks decided to close their laundromat operation, and moved the restaurant, complete with their famous buffet, into the newer building next door.  After a complete remodeling process, and a new kitchen, “Young’s Bar-B-Q with Country Buffet” re-opened in October of that same year.

When most people think of Young’s, they think of it’s owner, and daily hostess, Sharon Hancock.  She’s always there, with a “How are you doing, today?”, or her cheerful, “Ya’ll come back!”  She’s open every weekday for lunch, as well as Sunday lunch buffet.  They also serve catfish, fried shrimp, and BBQ ribs on Friday nights.

When I asked Sharon how she ended up in the restaurant business, she replied, “Well, I was 9 when we moved into the store………….”

She said that the best part of her job is pleasing folks.  “Full people are happy people.”

Sharon was born and raised in Monticello, and graduated from Monticello High School.

“I’ve been married to Billy Joe all my life”, she added with a smile.  Billy Joe served in the U.S. Army until 1962, and was stationed in Germany for a part of that time.

They have 2 sons, Mike, who works at the Pine Bluff Arsenal, and Steve, who is now part-owner of the restaurant, and handles the inventory and catering, as well as doing all of the B-B-Qing.

The Hancock’s have 3 grandchildren: Jake (age 17), Laura (age 14), and Somer (age 13).

Saron’s response to the usual “Get to know” type questions included:

Hobbies-Painting, especially Santa portraits and birdhouses.  (Her Christmas present from her husband was painting classes.)

Pets-“He has pets. They’re all his”.

Restaurant-She smiled, no response was needed. 

Favorite phrase-“‘Have a good day’ seems to say it all.”

TV show-Paula Dean’s Cooking Show, on the Food Network.

Favorite actor-Richard Gere.

Favorite movie-Sweet Home Alabama.

 Favorite music-Country.

Favorite author-James Patterson (mysteries).

Favorite sports teams-Billies, Pirates, Weevils.

In closing, Sharon considers herself a, “Plain old, what you see is what you get” type of person, but that’s the kind of person, business, and cooking that keeps so many Monticello people coming back for lunch. 

Thanks, Sharon Hancock, for sharing your One Monticello Life.

To read other editions of One Monticello Life, Click here.

One Monticello Life: John Carter

Sunday, December 23rd, 2007


John Carter, shown here during an emergency drill a few months ago at Drew Central Schools, is an agent of the 10th Judicial District’s Drug Task Force.

John began his law enforcement career with the Monticello Police Dept., where he remained for 4 years, until November of this year.  He had originally been a member for the Monticello Fire Dept. (he’s still a volunteer firefighter), and when Lt. Eddie Deaton suggested he become a member of the Police Auxiliary Unit, he soon became a full-time officer.


One Monticello Life: Larry Wilkerson

Sunday, November 25th, 2007


Several years ago, the church I was attending had a visiting preacher, who preached like he knew exactly what all was going on in my life at that time.

That preacher was Bro. Larry Wilkerson.  Bro. Larry is now pastor of Ladelle Baptist Church, a “country church” that averages around 75-80 people attending on Sunday mornings.  One of Bro. Larry’s friends was at lunch with us, and described the church as “country people and potluck meals, that make you feel at home.”


One Monticello Life: Truman Hamilton

Sunday, November 11th, 2007

100_0378.JPGMost Monticello residents know Truman Hamilton from when he owned the radio stations.  Others remember when he managed the Magic Mart store, but there’s more to know about Truman than where he used to work.

Truman has just accepted the position of executive director of the Monticello Economic Development Commission. 

I think the job is in good hands.

MEDC’s director, Derrill Pierce, is stepping down because of health reason, but is helping it’s new director during the transition. 

Truman has just been in the office a few days, but the first thing that I noticed about his desk, was that his Bible was on it.  That’s a sign of leadership.


One Monticello Life: Beverly Lobitz

Sunday, November 4th, 2007

Mrs. Beverly Lobitz has been a member of UAM’s Music faculty for 35 years.  So many times, when someone has the same career, they just do their job.  That’s not the case with Mrs. Lobitz.lobitz.JPG

David Johnston, who’s daughter, Dailyn, is a first year piano student of Mrs. Lobitz, considers her to be “an outstanding piano teacher.  Dailyn is already reading sheet music, and can sing and play at the same time.”

Johnston added, “She is a very sweet person who allows parents to sit in on lessons with their children. Seeing her work with kids the way she does, shows that she is a very patient and talented teacher.  She always seems eager to share her love of music.” 

Beverly Lobitz grew up in Manhattan, Kansas.  She earned her Bachelor of Music degree at Kansas State University, and then completed her Masters of Science in Voice degree, at Emporia (Kansas) State University.

Mrs. Annette Hall, her colleague in the Division of Music since 1972, considers Mrs. Lobitz to be “a multi-talented musician, dedicated teacher, and exemplary role model for students.”

Mrs. Hall added, “She has the heart of a teacher.” 

Mrs. Lobitz has taught piano and voice, both in school settings and privately, since college.  She has been a member of UAM’s Music Department for 35 years. 

Betty Matthews told me last week, how helpful Mrs. Lobitz was when she taught Ms. Matthews daughter, Laura.  “Personal involvement” makes a world of difference.”

Larry Lobitz, retired, is Mrs. Beverly’s husband, and has preached for many years.  Together, they serve at Lakeside Presbyterian Church, in Lake Village.  Mr. Larry leads the choir, and Mrs. Beverly has played the organ for 11 years.

Their son, Brice is a construction contractor in New Orleans, and his wife, Becky (formerly Becky Jacobs, of Monticello), is an electrical engineer with Shell Oil.  They spend many weekends working with church projects there, such as missions, and construction for people with special needs.

Mrs. Lobitz has 2 grandchildren, Colton and Tyler.

Mrs. Lobitz says she doesn’t watch very much television, but does enjoy an occasional “Extreme Home Makeover”, when someone does something helpful to improve someone else’s life.

Mrs. Lobitz considers music, “a vocation, and a hobby”, and has taught hundreds of students in private lessons, where she can make the most of “one on one” contact, in teaching.

She explained her ambitions with this phrase, “My goal is to see students succeed, not just in music, but in life.”

It seems that Mrs. Beverly Lobitz has reached her goal; many, many, times.  Including with me.

I became a voice student of Beverly Lobitz in 1982, when i started at UAM.  3 years later, while living and working in Dumas, but just a few hours short of graduation.  Mrs. Lobitz kept in touch with me by sending messages by my church’s pianist (also a student of hers), encouraging me to finish.  Mrs. Lobitz kept saying, “When you’ve got that degree, you’ll be so glad to have achieved that goal in life.”  25 years later, I see that she was right.  The fact that Mrs. Lobitz never gave up, has really made a difference, as it does to so many other students, that she still calls “My Kids”.

Thanks, Beverly Lobitz, for sharing your One Monticello Life.

One Monticello Life: Calvin Murphy

Sunday, October 28th, 2007

I’ve known Calvin Murphy for several years, and the more I’m around him, the more I learn.


Calvin, and his wife Mrs. Carolyn, operate O&M Oil Co., on East Gaines street.

Mr. Calvin has always lived in Drew County, and was born in the “Sipio” community, south of Ladelle and Lacey.  At the time, the Ashley, Drew, & Northern Railroad had a stop in that area.  Calvin grew up and graduated from Monticello High School.

Calvin started out as a meat cutter at “Clay’s Grocery Store”, which was located on North Main St., across from where Union Bank is now.

Calvin served in the U.S. Army, and was stationed at Ft. Chaffee, AR, Ft. Sill, OK, and was sent to Germany, shortly after the Korean War.  After he was released from the Army, he joined the National Guard, and served there until he’d completed 39 years of service to his country.

Next month, Calvin & Carolyn Murphy will have been married to each other for 50 years.

They have 2 grown children.  Their son, Les lives in Star City, and runs O&M’s bulk plant there.  Les is married to Jacque, who teaches 1st grade.  Calvin’s daughter, Kim, lives in Springdale, and teaches 1st grade there.  Kim is married to Rob Tanksley, who works at the Tyson corporate office.

Calvin got into the oil business back in the 1950’s, when he went to work for his father-in-law, Mr. Hellums Owen.  Back then, the station was at the corner of S. Main, and Shelton streets, and the bulk plant was located right where O&M is now.  This was when all “service stations” were “full service” stations.

Mr. Calvin told me, “I believe a man should work 5 days.”  He added, “Saturday is mine, and Sunday belongs to the Lord.”

On Saturday’s, if the Razorbacks play a home game, Calvin is usually somewhere close.  If the Hogs are playing an away game, he’s probably at Monticello Speedway.

On Sunday, he’ll be at Northside Baptist Church.  Calvin is the senior deacon at Northside and sings in the choir. “Quietly,” he adds.  Northside has been the only church he’s been a member of.

Over the years he has served as Sunday School teacher and director, “Training Union” teacher and director,  youth and building committees, and anywhere else that there was a need.

Calvin is also a member of Gideons, Int., which provides Bibles to schools, hospitals, and to our soldiers.

Mr. Calvin’s other passion, besides Mrs. Carolyn, is cars.  He has two “older” cars he’s working on restoring now. “Very slowly”, he comments.  One is a 1948 Lincoln Continental Mark I, and the other is a 1939 Cadillac LaSalle.

As you can tell by the photograph, Calvin Murphy loves his cars, and Mrs. Carolyn doesn’t like being in pictures.

Thanks, Calvin Murphy, for sharing your One Monticello Life. 

One Monticello Life: George Strain

Sunday, October 21st, 2007

It was around 1:30, Monday morning, January 29, 2007. Monticello Police Dept. Patrolman George Strain was working a call at the intersection of E. Gaines and Conley streets.


That was when officer Strain was run over by an oncoming vehicle. The force of the impact that cold, early morning, either fractured or broke his right wrist, left leg, left ankle, and multiple ribs. One of the broken ribs punctured and collapsed his right lung. He also had a broken pelvis.

George spent the next 19 days hospitalized. When he was able to go home, he still had to use a wheel chair.

It’s now 9 months later, and he’s still in physical rehabilitation to overcome some of the muscle deficiencies from the accident, but George never gave up.

George grew up in Tamo, AR., just north of Dumas and Grady.

He joined the U.S. Army, received his high school diploma, and even earned college credit, while he was serving his country.

In the military, George was stationed in Ft. Campbell, Kentucky,and was a member of the 101 Airborne, and the 2 / 17 Cavalry Unit.  His military duties carried him to Germany, Egypt, & Panama.

When he left the service, George worked in construction and in food-service, until he entered law enforcement.

George’s police career began in McGehee, then Grady, before coming to the Monticello Police Dept. in August, 1999.

Next month, George will be celebrating his eighth anniversary to Mrs. Dorothy.

They are very active in First Missionary Baptist Church, on Bailey street, here in Monticello, and Mrs. Dorothy sings.

Mrs. Dorothy is a member of the McLettic Stars, a family singing group, that has traveled to over 20 different states, singing about God’s love, mercy, and grace.

Through George’s accident and recovery, they’ve been blessed by that love, mercy, and grace.

George told me, “going through the accident, and everything that followed, has given me the chance to talk, and to witness, to many people that I wouldn’t have had the chance to, without the accident.”

When I was talking to him, I realized that he sees this as an opportunity to make a difference in other people’s lives.

George isn’t still in that wheel chair.

Last week I saw him at City Hall. He was on his way to work.

Officer George Strain is back in uniform, in Monticello, serving as the School Resource Officer for the Monticello School System. His office is at the high school, but he’s on duty at all of the Monticello School facilities, spending time with the students, and he’s teaching them something, simply by being there.

Officer George Strain, now there’s a good roll-model for our kids, and for us.

George Strain, thanks for sharing your One Monticello Life.

Click here to read’s original story about the accident.

Click here to read’s original report, Officer Comes Home.

One Monticello Life: Rhonda Brooks

Sunday, October 14th, 2007


When most people meet Rhonda Brooks, they see her as a “lady in a wheelchair”, but there are many things that they don’t realize about Rhonda.

Rhonda grew up in Dewitt, where she lived with her parents and two sisters.

Her hobbies include listening to music, her favorites are Christian and bluegrass.

She also enjoys computer crafts, such as making cards, boxes, and similar projects, that make other people feel appreciated.

She is also well known for making balloon animals for nurses, patients, and drive through bank tellers. 

Rhonda graduated from Dewitt High School in 1979, attended UAM, and received her teaching degree in 1983.

Rhonda also got married in 1983.

Her husband is Sanders Brooks, who grew up just east of Hamburg, and was also at UAM.

Rhonda taught kindergarten for the Hamburg School District, Portland Campus, from 1983-2000.

During this time, Sanders was pastor at Parkway Baptist Church (Lake Village) and New Hope Baptist Church (Eudora).

Life so many times changes.

Rhonda is in the wheelchair because of complications from juvenile diabetes, a broken leg, and knee deterioration.  She also had a kidney transplant in 1998.

So many people would have given up, but not Rhonda.

When her husband became pastor of Northside Baptist Church, in 2004, Sanders and Rhonda moved back to Monticello.

Rhonda may be in a wheelchair, but she still is able to teach her Northside Baptist Church Sunday School elementary class and serve on the youth committee.

Between the many trips to out of town doctors, Rhonda spends a lot of time with the Northside Baptist Sr. adults, and goes out with the Wednesday night missions group to visit the Guest House residents, and other shut-in elderly members, and feed 11 stray cats.

At other times during the month you may see her spending time at the Other Way; visiting patients as a hospice volunteer; or maybe even hear of her visiting patients at a clinic or hospitals, that need a “pep talk” to gain encouragement to help deal with life’s struggles.

Rhonda may be a “lady in a wheelchair”, but she certainly doesn’t live a “wheelchair life”.

Thanks, Rhonda for sharing your ONE MONTICELLO LIFE with us!

One Monticello Life: Terry Koone

Sunday, March 18th, 2007


“I pledge my head to clearer thinking, my heart to greater loyalty, my hands to larger service and my health to better living for my club, my community, my country and my world.” These words can be heard from the mouths of millions of young 4-H members across our nation. What started in the early 1900s to educate the young children of rural farmers has now grown into one of the country’s largest extracurricular youth programs. 4-H is not absent in Monticello. In fact, one of the fastest growing features of our local 4-H is the shooting sports program, and this group is mainly organized by Terry Koone. This is his story:

Terry Koone grew up in Conway, Arkansas. His dad worked for Southwestern Bell and his mom was a Farmers Home Administrator. He was the second oldest of four boys in his family. He grew up hunting, fishing and camping. All of these were a family affair and happened almost every weekend. He attended UCA and received a degree in business. He has worked for Farm Bureau as a claims adjuster most of his life.

In 1981 he married Jackie who was from Vilonia. That same year they moved to Monticello and made it their home. Terry and Jackie have two children, Kristen, 21 and Steven, 16. Terry became involved in 4-H for them. When his daughter was nine, she joined the organization. She was involved in several aspects of the club. She won state competitions in cooking. In photography she once was featured in the national 4-H calendar. Although Terry was not a part of 4-H when he grew up, he loved that his kids were a part of a group that had a “hands-on” philosophy. He loved to see them “grow and excel.”

His son, Steven, received a bow for Christmas at age 12. Terry didn’t bow-shoot and found the Drew County Bow Club ready and willing to help him and his son with their new hobby. At that time, Terry realized that 4-H had a shooting sports program on a national level but not in Monticello . He made a decision then to help begin one for the Drew County 4-H.

This is now the sixth year for the 4-H shooting sports program. The first year there were two students. In the third year, they had 8 students but no full teams to compete on a state level. In 2005, they had enough students to compete on a state level. They had a Junior Team (ages 9-13) and a Senior Team (ages 14-19). That year the Junior Team brought home 34 trophies and received a total of 60 ribbons. Last year they raised the bar and brought home 86 ribbons. The group is excited about the possibilities this year now that it has grown to over 40 students.

koone1.jpgThe 4-H Shooting Sports Progam has been a “blessing” for Terry. He does not get paid financially for his involvement or time but says that watching the kids grow and learn is payment enough for him. Terry is passionate about the organization and what it teaches the kids.

Although there are no gun clubs in Drew County, and there are no gun ranges around for the kids to practice, it didn’t stop Terry from making this possible for the kids of the shooting club.The 4-H shooting club started and still meets in Terry’s 20-acre backyard. He uses old signs from around town for targets, and there is always a firearm for someone to use. When the program started they had no equipment. Terry has used his own money at times to see that the needs are met. He has also involved as many people and parents as he can to see the program succeed. The Drew County Bow Club lets the 4-H club run a concession stand for their invitationals and have also given several bows to the 4-H group. The Friends of the NRA has a grant program that the Drew County 4-H applies for each year, and the 4-H students sell raffle tickets for the Friends of the NRA which allows the 4-H to receive some of the proceeds and/or equipment. Terry has seen the program grow by leaps and bounds and says it is “the best kept secret in the state of Arkansas.”

This program is not just about kids and firearms. The 4-H Shooting Sports Program has 4 disciplines: shotgun, .22, black-powder and archery. Terry has completed the instructional programs to train in these areas both on the state and national levels. The participants not only shoot targets, but they also learn the importance of safety, competition, life skills and practice. 4-H is open to all students ages 9-19, and there are many different 4-H programs here in Drew County. For about 40 shooting-sport students who meet twice a month in Rock Springs, the lessons they learn and fun they have make them thankful for Terry’s dedication and vision. He is a great example of the 4-H pledge. His heart has helped many young Monticellonians. Thank you, Terry Koone – one Monticello life.

One Monticello Life: Rebecca Akin

Sunday, January 21st, 2007


“There is a place where dreams come true, where wishes big and small lead to happily ever after.” This is the current advertising campaign for Walt Disney World. It can be heard on most television and radio stations. One of Monticello’s own, Rebecca Akin, just finished being a part of this magical experience. Here is her story:

Rebecca was born and raised in Monticello. Her dad is President/CEO of Akin Industries, which is a furniture manufacturing company. Her mother is a speech pathologist. Rebecca’s fond memories of growing up in Monticello are many. As children, she and her brother John spent time at Akin Industries where they creatively built trampolines out of excess chair foam. She also remembers city parades, her favorite teachers, ninth grade cheerleading, homecoming court and competing in a UAM monologue competition. She graduated from Monticello High School in 2002.

She attended Ouachita Baptist University, mainly due to the influence of her mother and grandfather. Her mother, Susan, was an OBU graduate, and her grandfather, Raymond Coppenger, taught religion and philososphy at the university. OBU had always played special role in her family and was already a special place for her. Rebecca had known from an early age that she wanted to pursue theater.

“OBU is a safe environment to do theater. I knew I wouldn’t have to worry about racy characters at their small theater,” she said.

She also enjoyed spending time with her grandfather who is now 97 years old. She attended church with him and could walk to his house from campus. She graduated from OBU in August 2006 with a bachelor’s of art, double-majoring in Theater and Mass Communications. She was encouraged to find a theatrical internship, and was excited to land one at Walt Disney World.

At the Disney Internship, Rebecca took entertainment and communication classes. The classes were hands-on, and she experienced the in’s-and-out’s of how theater works at WDW. Rebecca also worked daily as a tour guide for the The Great Movie Ride at MGM Studios. On each tour, she would read a fifty-page script to a group of 70 people. She could not deviate from the script unless the car would get stuck for mechanical reasons. This happened quite often. During the wait, Rebecca enjoyed entertaining her tourists. She would usually end up telling jokes like her favorite, “Why was Cinderella so bad at soccer? Because her coach was a pumpkin, and she always ran away from the ball’. Because most of the riders were at a point of impatient frustration, she usually received more groans than laughs. But this did not stop Rebecca from having fun and making the most of her situations.

akin2.jpgAt the end of the internship she was voted on by her peers and manager for the Thunderous Applause Award. This award was confirmation to Rebecca that although she might be different than most of her classmates, her fun spirit and attitude paid off.
Rebecca learned more than theater at Walt Disney World. She also grew in her Christian faith. Walt Disney World is known as a “happy” place, but she found herself unhappy at times. It proved to be quite a culture shock as she discovered the variety of people and backgrounds at the park. There were parts of her experience that she “hated” but that she wouldn’t trade them. She said she grew as a Christian and learned to rely on God on a new level.

Rebecca is unsure what is next for her now that her Walt Disney experience is over. Currently she is working for Akin Industries creating a furniture catalogue. She likes this stage of life where “nothing can hold her back,” and possibilities are endless. She loves theater and wants to keep that avenue open. Already, she has many credentials:

  • Stage Performances- This is Where We Came In, The Art of Self Defense, Anything Goes, Sound of Music, and South Pacific
  • Directed one-act play, The Diary of Adam and Eve
  • Created and directed Monticello Children’s Theater Camp
  • Semester study in Salzburg, Austria

It is obvious that many dreams have already come true for Rebecca. But because of her love for theater and her love for life, it will be interesting to see what other wishes of this Monticellonian are granted. She is proof that there is a place that dreams come true, not only at Walt Disney World but also in Monticello. Thanks, Rebecca Akin- one Monticello life.

One Monticello Life: Linda Beer

Sunday, November 26th, 2006
This past week at the First United Methodist Church Preschool there were many three- and four year-olds giving thanks. The children celebrated their annual Thanksgiving feast by bringing their favorite foods. This year’s feast included a bowl of cookie dough, macaroni and cheese, "pasgetty," marshmallows, and chocolate ice cream, to name a small selection. The leader behind this most-anticipated celebration is their preschool teacher, Linda Beer, known by all as "Mrs. Linda." This is her story:

She was born and raised in El Dorado, where her dad worked in manufacturing and her mother stayed home to raise her and her three brothers. After graduating from high school, she attended the University of Arkansas. She returned to south Arkansas after her first year in college to marry Ian Beer.

She met Ian in high school when his parents moved from Canada to El Dorado. Ian and Linda lived in El Dorado after they married as Ian commuted to Camden for a manufacturing job. Their house burned early in their marriage, and at that point, they decided to start fresh in Camden.

They lived in Camden for 18 years. During that time, they had three children. Mrs. Linda stayed at home and occasionally kept other children in her home as well. When her youngest child was four, she began to work in the Camden school district and finished her Early Childhood degree at UAM.

In 1995, the Beer family moved to Monticello where Mrs. Linda found an early childhood education job at W.C. Whaley. The next year, First United Methodist Church began planning to start a preschool. Upon learning of her interest through members of her church, she was hired as the school’s first teacher in the fall of 1996.

The program started with five students, all of whom are in eighth grade today. Mrs. Linda said she had no idea how much work it would take to start a preschool, but through all the paperwork, licensing, and other details, she and the church are proud of what the program has become.

Ten years later, there are two different classes, a three year-old class of 12 students on Tuesday and Thursday, and a four year-old class of 15 on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. The program’s reputation and popularity require the necessity of a waiting list.

Mrs. Linda has always loved working with children.

"Listening to the kids’ funny stories from home and their take on things is hilarious," she said.

She says that watching their "little faces light up when they write a letter for the first time" and "how they learn to interact with each other" remains some of her favorite things about her job.

In looking toward the future, she mentioned that the church is starting a new building project.

"We’re working on it having four classrooms, playground, and much more room," she said. "We would like to enlarge the program so that it will be open to everyone who wants to get into a part-time preschool. Hopefully, this will do away with the waiting list."

Mrs. Linda’s goals for children in her preschool are for the children to learn to share and interact.

"This is a time they are pulling away from mom. It is great when they get to the point they don’t want mom to come inside anymore. They become more confident and pull away. I am proud when they are ready for kindergarten," she said.

After ten years working with preschool students, Mrs. Linda confessed that she didn’t think she would still be working in this role.

"I never imagined it would bless my life like it has. I can’t imagine now doing anything else," she said.

She’s not the only one who has been blessed. Because of Mrs. Linda’s years at the FUMC preschool, many lives have been touched. Memories of Pumpkin Patch trips, fire stations, county fairs, egg hunts, and the most popular Thanksgiving Feast will not be forgotten. Many little Monticellonians and their parents are thankful this season for Mrs. Linda Beer, one Monticello life.

One Monticello Life: Chase Wellenberger

Sunday, November 19th, 2006
You may have seen a "Pray for Chase" bumper sticker around town with on it and wondered what it was all about. Chase Wellenberger is a little boy with a big story. He is an eight year old whose roots run deep in Monticello. Although at first glance he is a typical kid, a closer look shows more of the story.


His parents, Matt and Carrie, welcomed him into the world as a Texan on January 19, 1998, but before he could even crawl they had relocated to Monticello. At the early age of four (June 2002) he was diagnosed with Low Risk Pre-B cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. Within the same week of his diagnosis, his parents learned they were expecting another child. During Carrie’s pregnancy, Chase fought the cancer and after nine months entered a period of long-term Maintenance. His beautiful sister, Catie, was born. After a fairly uneventful year and a half of long-term Maintenance, Chase was checked into the hospital with a virus on October 17, 2004. Daily battling Chase’s high fevers and undergoing much testing, the Wellenbergers awaited an outcome. On December 20, 2004, the doctors reported that Chase had Leukemia blasts in his spinal fluid. His parents dreaded the news of a possible relapse and knew the tide could turn either way. Enduring numerous spinal taps and hospital stays finally brought the news that the cancer was back in full force. Needing to be close to Arkansas Children’s Hospital for daily treatments and therapies, the family moved to Little Rock in April of 2005.

Chase is currently in ACH but took some time to answer a few questions. He says that some of his favorite things to do are hanging out with his friends from Monticello, playing video games and collecting knives and dragons. Dragons are meaningful to Chase because he symbolizes fighting his cancer with fighting a dragon. While in the hospital, Chase spends a lot of time receiving treatments for his cancer and in therapy but to pass the down time he watches TV or plays video games.

When asked, “What keeps you fighting the cancer on those really hard days?” his simple answer was, “My mama, my daddy, and my sister”. He has several words of wisdom to share from what he’s learned about life:

“You can always make it through whatever comes your way.”

“Smile and have fun today; tomorrow may be worse.”

“Thank God for your blessings!”

Pictured here is Chase with Tony Hawk, a popular pro skateboarder. Tony and his crew came to AR and took some time out from their show to meet this extraordinary young man on July 1, 2005. The experience is one Chase won’t soon forget. Some other memories he enjoys are reuniting with his sister after long separations due to long-term hospital stays and playing World of Warcraft with his uncles Casey and Robert!

Even a quick visit with Carrie shows the love and support that this family has for one another. The pride of these parents in their son is evident. Although the experience of having a child with Leukemia must be difficult to describe, Carrie summed up her thoughts about Chase by saying without hesitation, “Chase is the strongest person I’ve ever known or met. He’s a trooper!”

His sister Catie (pictured here with Chase) was asked what she loves most about Chase and her reply was, “He loves on me!” She brings smiles to his face and laughs from his heart by ‘loving on him’ and playing games with him.

Along with his close-knit family, Chase’s friends love and support him. Twelve-year-old Colby Capps has known Chase for six years and says he’s her best friend. Colby remembers lots of time spent with him when they were younger and before he moved. In between giggles, Colby tells of fun times playing spy and sneaking up on their moms, who taught school together, to listen in on the grown-ups! She truly admires Chase for his energy and great sense of humor and can’t imagine life without him. Colby loves the fact that Chase laughs even when he doesn’t feel like it when she makes funny faces at him or pulls other silly antics to cheer him up!

His friend of five years, Parker Caldwell, has lots to say about Chase. He, too, considers Chase his best friend and says, “We’ve been friends for a long time and we like to play video games and go swimming together. He’s like my brother…best friends never let best friends down! Leukemia or no leukemia, Chase can count on me. He needs me but I need Chase!” Parker’s mother, Robin Caldwell, is touched by the friendship between the two and says that Parker and the family prays for Chase consistently.

If you haven’t taken the chance to dig a little deeper and find out more about Chase, now is the time. Learn more about Chase on the website his mom and dad update frequently at While you’re there, boost Chase’s spirits by leaving him a message in the guestbook. You won’t regret getting to know this one Monticello life better: Chase Wellenberger…

One Monticello Life: Priscilla Smith

Sunday, November 12th, 2006
South Arkansas Rehabilitation recently moved to its newly-built facility on Old Warren Road. Among the busyness of workers still finishing the indoor pool and the staff of physical therapists working with patients last week was a dynamic blend of past and present in for Monticello. Nat Grubbs invited a friend and patient, as well as a former physical therapist to view a special room in the facility. The room was especially designed for children in need of rehabilitation services, and it was dedicated to Priscilla Smith. This is her story:

Priscilla Hopkins Houdlette Smith was born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1918. Her father was a civil engineer who designed the majority of interstate highways in that state. Her mother was a house wife who died during the birth of Priscilla’s sister, Claire. Priscilla was seven years old at the time. She and her sister were raised by their grandmother for most of their lives.

She was an registered nurse during World War II. She served in England and France from 1943-1945. After her service was complete, she moved to New York City where she worked as a nurse. In the late 40s, Pat Stewart, a nurse friend, from the military talked her into considering work in a new field called physical therapy. She moved to the University of Texas at Galveston to train as a PT.

Polio was in full outbreak in 1950. Warm Springs, Georgia became known for its therapeutic waters. Even President Franklin Roosevelt, himself a polio victim, went to Warm Springs for therapy. Priscilla relocated there and began to work.

"The country was full of polio kids. No one thought there was going to be a cure," she said.

After she worked in Warm Spring, she moved to Dallas, Texas. Working as a PT there, she became the chief PT at Parkland Hospital in downtown Dallas. She also trained students at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.

It was in 1963, at her apartment complex, that she met James Smith. He was visiting friends who lived below Priscilla and had been recently divorced. He was raising his four children who were ages one, three, five and seven at the time.

"When I met Smitty, he was changing his son’s diaper. I knew then he needed a mother for his kids," Priscilla smiled.

After a few dates, Priscilla and James traded in her pink and gray Thunderbird for a station wagon. They were married on November 3, 1963.

James was in the field service modular business. They moved several times over the next few years, to Michigan, Dallas, and California. Priscilla put physical therapy aside for a while to raise the children.

In 1985, with the kids grown and gone, the Smiths were in Dallas again. She returned to Parkland Hospital to work as a PT, but in 1988, James’ father, Homer Smith, had a stroke. He lived in Monticello. At that time, the Smiths moved to Monticello to be with James’ family. Priscilla found a job with home health in McGehee and worked there from 1988 to 1999. She was 80 years old when she retired.

Priscilla met Nat Grubbs by becoming a patient of his. The relationship became one of deep friendship and respect. Nat had always been interested in the history of physical therapy, and when he discovered that one of its pioneers was a patient of his, he never let an opportunity pass without learning something and asking questions.

"It has been a tremendous blessing getting to know "Miss Pris" over the years since I returned to Monticello and opened my therapy practice. She has been to me a pioneer, a mentor, a colleague, a patient, and a dear friend….but more than anything else, she has been an inspiration to me. I am inspired by her "spunk," by her unwavering desire to improve herself, by her compassion for others, and by her determination to meet life’s challenges. I hope that all of us who know Miss Pris will be similarly inspired to choose to have the same type of attitude that she has demonstrated as we are faced with our own challenges. I love Priscilla Smith!" Nat said.

At 88, Priscilla Smith is a wonder and delight. These days, she spends more time at home than ever before. Getting around is more difficult as she’s forced to use a wheelchair. She and James smile and laugh more than they ever have, and their kindness and joy is self-evident.

As she received her personal tour of South Arkansas Rehabilitation this past week, she was wheeled into the children’s room that has been dedicated to her. On the wall there is a picture of Priscilla working with a child who was a polio victim. The words below the photo say "In appreciation of your contribution to the physical therapy profession and the many patients you served, and for the inspiration you have provided those of us who have followed in your footsteps… Thank you! We love you! Your friends at South Arkansas Rehabilitation." Priscilla Smith will never be able to estimate the lives she’s literally touched over the years. Our community is grateful for such a life: One Monticello Life.

One Monticello Life: Mae Simpson

Sunday, November 5th, 2006

Books can influence and change the way you see the world. At the Monticello Public Library, there are not only significant books, but there is also a special libararian. Mae Simpson has impacted many people not only through the world of books but also through her life. Here is her story:

Mae Everett Simpson was raised in the 16th Section community east of Monticello. Her father was a pastor and her mother was a housewife. She was the 9th child of 11 children. Mae went to school most of her life in Selma. She went to high school at Drew Central and graduated in 1968. She then moved to Pine Bluff to attend college.

Her freshman year she married a schoolmate, Tommy Simpson. After her first year in college, they moved to South Carolina for two years where Tommy served in the Air Force. In 1970, the couple moved back to Monticello and had their first child.

Mae worked at Burlington for 15 years until the plant closed its doors. She then went back to school in McGehee. In 1985, she graduated from vocational-technical school with an associate secretarial degree.

Though Mae and Tommy had only one child, she parents 13. Mae is a foster parent. They have been fostering for 12 years. At  present, they have three children who have lived with them for six years.

"We lived out [of town] and my husband works in Crossett (where he is a licensed electrician and machinist at Georgia-Pacific). He works graveyard. I would be home by myself all the time. I didn’t like that. So, one of my co-workers suggested I become a foster parent," Mae responded when asked how they began fostering.

They still keep in contact with all of the children they’ve fostered. "I am Mom!" she said. "We are their Mom and Dad."

Mae started working at the the Monticello Public Library soon after she received her secretarial degree. She is the assistant branch manager and holds that title with pride.

"I love the people. There are so many nice people. If I didn’t like the people, it would be hard to stay in the same place for 20 years with all the different personalities you work with," she said.

When asked how what she has seen change in Monticello over the years, she said, "There are more opportunities for minority people. In the past, you wouldn’t have walked through the door of the library and found me behind the desk. It has been a joy to work here. You know, life is nothing without people. I don’t care who they are or the color of their skin. You get them and you mold them. We help them, and we give them opportunities to go to college. It gives them someplace to work, and they learn as they work."

Mae loves the people of Monticello. "There are good people here. They’ll do anything to help you. You know everybody, and that’s good."

Unwilling to simply go to work and return home, Mae is currently on a committee to restore her old school house in Selma. She and several others are worked towards making Selma Junior High School a historical site. The building is used now for banquets and group meetings like the Masons and Eastern Star organization of which Mae is a member. Mae is also an active member of 16th Section Missionary Baptist Church.

Between fostering children, educating young people, working to restore historical buildings, and her active church membership, Mae’s life a book worth reading. Next time you’re in the library, introduce yourself and let Mae know you’re thankful for her life: One Monticello Life.

One Monticello Life: The Allen House

Sunday, October 29th, 2006

What is Halloween without ghosts, goblins and haunted houses? Located in the center of Monticello, on Main Street is one of Arkansas’ most reputed haunted houses: the Allen House. Here is its story:

The Allen House was built in 1900 by Joe Lee Allen. It is still much like it was when it was built. Dottie Simmons, the house’s third and current owner, said, “It’s like you walk into a whole different time.”

The Allen family was in the timber business and built the house with only virgin heart of oak and pine. The wood was preserved with linseed or cotton oil which has kept away termites to this day. The windows in the house were custom made in St. Louis, MO and brought to Monticello on a boat down the Mississippi River. The windows are all different shapes, sizes and colors. The dining room has a hammered tin cherub ceiling.

The house has 9500 square feet. There are 16 rooms in operation. It now has three bathrooms which are not original to the house. There are two washrooms and a complete kitchen upstairs and downstairs. At the top of the four-story house is a full grandmother’s attic.

The house is situated on two acres of land, and the yard is covered with English ivy and several massive magnolia trees. Few know that the house was originally located across Main Street and was moved to its present location. Gloria Wright’s pink bed and breakfast sits on the lot the Allen House first occupied. The house has been featured on television commercials and printed material for southeast Arkansas. But this time of year, its most interesting feature is the house’s claim to be haunted.

Many will attest to the presence of a ghost or ghosts in the Allen House. Ask any long-time Monticellonian, and many will have a story about the Allen House. The stories usually center on Mr. Allen’s daughter committing suicide in the house in the 1940s because of a broken heart. Some say she threw herself over the staircase and plummeted to her death, but the most common story is that she overdosed on cyanide purchased at the Hyatt Drug Store.

Carolyn Wilson was one of the tenants in the house who even wrote a book which is currently out of print. You may find a copy in the Monticello Library. Its title is The Scent of Lilacs and is a romantic fiction involving a large, old haunted house.

Few people realize the history and supposed haunting of the Allen House who have lived in Monticello a short time. However, upon viewing the Allen House for the first time, the response is usually, “I’m not surprised.” Whether it’s haunted or just historical, the Allen House of Monticello surely can be considered part of our town’s life: one Monticello life.

Related Sites that mention the Allen House:

FYI: Current owner Dottie Simmons will be having an auction on November 9 at 11:00 a.m. at the Drew County Fairgrounds. You may preview auction items at the Allen House on November 7-8 at 11:00 a.m. For more information, go to

One Monticello Life: Rob Leonard

Sunday, October 22nd, 2006
UAM will celebrate Homecoming this Saturday, October 28. For many who will attend, Rob Leonard dramatically impacted their college experience. As Director of the Missionary Baptist Student Union and music minister at Pauline Baptist Church for the past 23 years, Rob has invested his life in others for almost six generations of UAM college students. This is his story.

Jacksonville, Arkansas was home for Rob’s family when he was younger. Growing up as a "PK" (pastor’s kid), Rob and his family were integral parts of Landmark Missionary Baptist Church. For Rob and his brother, Phil, life was centered around family and the fast-growing church his dad pastored. What began as a small congregation changed quickly as the church transitioned to a large, thriving center of spiritual growth. New members were added often; church activities consumed the family schedule. Eventually, the church built a new facility to house its growing membership and ministry.

However, during Rob’s freshman year in high school, while the church grew, his family fell apart. His dad left his mom and moved to Little Rock. His mom was forced to find a job and move her boys to a rental house. The single parent family stayed at their church during this time. Rob’s mom attended realtor’s school and received her license as an avenue of provision for the family.

"High school was a tough period for me and my family," Rob said. "Basically everything I ever believed was called into question. I went from the kid whose dad preached at the biggest church in town to the kid who didn’t really have a church anymore. I didn’t know what was going on."

Sports and choir became reliable friends to Rob, who excelled in both. His football team during his senior year was the first Jacksonville team to win the state championship. His experience being selected to the All State Choir gave Rob some credentials during the collegiate application process and helped him earn a full scholarship to the University of Central Arkansas where he was a part of John Erwin’s madrigal choir. Rob and Carla, his wife, were married while in college, though they had met through church activities while in high school. Carla’s dad was a pastor in Cabot. They dated two and a half years before marrying.

"We were ready to put our lives together. Our parents must have been crazy, or they had a lot of faith in us. Carla was 19, and I was 20 when we got married," Rob said.

Driving back and forth from UCA to Jacksonville, Rob continued to attend the church which his dad had formerly pastored "mainly because of memories," he said. "I remembered how it used to be and just wanted to put it back together after dad left. If I could just work hard, I was sure we could get the church back on its feet."

He continued this commute for two years. His future was interrupted, however, when Buddy Lemons, then pastor of Monticello’s Pauline Baptist Church contacted him. The church invited Rob to consider coming to Monticello to serve as music minister. However, Rob and Carla were not interested, being content where they were. Three months later, Lemons called again to ask Rob to reconsider the ministry opportunity. Again, Rob decided not to interview, feeling that he would be wasting the church’s time due to his lack of interest. Yet, the second call prompted Rob to begin praying about the matter, and he soon realized that his time at Landmark Church was over.

He called Pastor Buddy back and asked if the position was still available. Lemons related that the job was his to which Rob responded, "You have to interview me. I can’t just take the job!"

Rob arrived in Monticello in March 1983 to visit with church leaders. There was an immediate connection. He loved the church, the people, and the town and was offered the position the same day. Listen to Rob’s account of his first Sunday at Pauline.

His ministry at Pauline included serving as the campus minister at the Missionary Baptist Student Foundation (MBSF) at UAM. He never imagined being a campus minister. "I never knew that this ministry would be the perfect niche. When I took the job, I didn’t have any idea what the job entailed," he said. He asked his pastor and was told to look through the former director’s files and he’d "figure it out." With a grin, Rob said that he’s still figuring it out today.

There are few UAM students who don’t know Rob Leonard. He continues to play intramurals with the students, as well as coaching them. He’s a fixture in the UAM cafeteria, and serves as the chaplain of the football team. He travels with them when he’s able and delivers pre-game devotionals. The baseball, softball and even rodeo teams are also recipients of Rob’s constant attention and care. Whether it’s a campus fish fry, sports activity, or special event, Rob tries to be present.

"You have to go where the students are," he said. In particular, "the athletes are on their own schedule. You have to minister to them on their time because of their busy schedule." The MBSF focuses on reaching and serving the athletic teams as much as possible.

When asked why he and the MBSF spend so much time trying to reach students, Rob responded, "Because Jesus changes lives."

"People are looking for something to believe in. They want more than they have, but the only person who can give you more than what you have is Jesus, no matter what you have. He can change lives, and when he changes a life, that is something the world cannot refute."

When asked about his thoughts on Monticello, Rob said, "Monticello has had some good opportunities for people to grow, educate their kids and have solid jobs. It seems like once people get here, there is something about this place that makes you want to stay. I don’t really understand it.

"I had no intentions of staying here. There was not anything here that would keep me. But once I got here, I knew this is where I wanted to be. Now, I’d rather be in Monticello than anywhere else. Maybe it’s the people or the spirit of the place – I don’t want to say that Monticello is a ‘godlier" place than anywhere else – but God has definitely been evident to me in this place, and there’s something about that that is obvious to a lot of people here."

Whether praying with the UAM football team before a game or leading a contemporary worship chorus at Pauline Church, Rob contributes to the life of Monticello. Having impacted collegians and citizens in our community for more than 23 years, he is truly one Monticello life.

One Monticello Life: The Brown Twins

Sunday, October 8th, 2006

Twins. One definition of twins is counterpart – a person or thing that closely resembles another. This is how you would describe Ruth & Ruby Brown. You might have seen these identical twins around town on Fridays. This is their day to eat lunch at a local restaurant. And most days, they wear the same color. This is by coincidence usually. Not only are Ruby and Ruth twins, they also married brothers! Here is their story: Ruby and Ruth Barrett Brown were born in 1930. They were raised in Warren. Their father was a farmer, and they have two brothers and two sisters. Their father died when they were young. Their mother raised the six children with the help of their grandparents who also farmed. The Brown brothers moved from Cleveland County to Bradley County in 1945. The Browns also farmed. There were five children in their family, four boys and 1 girl. It was at Macedonia Baptist Church that T.H. and Larkin Brown met the twins. "We were at church, and there they were, sitting on the pew," Larkin recalls about the first time he met Ruby and Ruth. "Back in those days, we didn’t date until you were 16. Me and Ruth were 15 at the time." Ruby also said they were all friends until they could start dating. "We rode to school in a taxi. So we went to school together before we dated," she said. Both T.H. and Larkin served in the U.S. Military. T.H. served in China during World War II. Larkin served during the Korean War. But war did not keep these brothers and twins apart for long. After T.H. returned from the war, he finished high school. In 1948, Ruth and T.H. married. One week after Larkin came home from Korea in 1952, Ruby and Larkin were married. Each couple moved frequently, for the mens’ jobs. T.H. attended Chicago Electrical School and worked for Entergy for 42 years. Larkin attended UAM and the UofA and received a B.S. in agriculture. He worked as a county agent in Drew and Chicot counties for 37 years. While the frequent moves kept the twins apart off and on for part of their lives, they wrote letters often. "At least once a week, I know, because I checked the mailbox," Larkin remembered. However, the majority of their lives, the twins have been together. Their days were always together. They each had three children. Not only did the twins marry brothers, but Ruth and Ruby’s younger sister married T.H. and Larkin’s brother. The twins’ youngest sister married the Brown’s brother’s first cousin. They were always together at different occasions. "Our children were more like brothers and sisters than cousins." "It was like we were all one big family." T.H. and Larkin were asked what it was like being married to twins. Larkin said it was "great," because "If I want to go somewhere, all I have to say is, ‘Ruth called,’ and she’d go over there. Then I can go and do what I want to," he said with a grin. T.H. said, "I haven’t been married to anybody else, so I don’t know. All I can say is I got the best looking of the bunch!" Larkin is quick to respond, "That’s the only one that would have you!" Ruby and Ruth drink coffee together every morning. The twins do not do much without the other. They all attend First Baptist Church where the men are deacons and the ladies are on the benevolent committee. They each enjoy their grand children. When asked about being twins, Ruth said, "We have had a good life, good health, and good husbands. We have such a close bond. It is indescribable." Ruby said, "You always have someone to talk to and not be judgemental." So next time you see these counterparts eating out on Fridays, let them know you read their story. Like Ruth said about being twins, "It is such a special life." Indeed! Their twin lives make up our One Monticello Life.

One Monticello Life: Mr. Carpenter

Sunday, October 1st, 2006

Mr. James Carpenter was born in 1938 and raised in Hamburg by a farmer and housewife. He is the 8th child of nine children. He has four brothers and four sisters. He went to school in Hamburg and managed to march in his high school’s graduation ceremonies, but he lacked a little to get an actual diploma.

After high school, he worked on his father’s farm in Hamburg. He then went to work at P.E. Barnes pallet mill for nine years. He worked for Georgia Pacific for one year and for a while at the Lake Village industries.

“I met my wife in the first part of April 1973,” Mr. Carpenter said. “We married October 1973. We will be married 33 years this October 13. I was 35. I was old enough.”

His wife was 30 years old and had six children from her first husband. On the day of their wedding, her oldest child was 10, and her youngest was four. Today they have 12 grand children and 3 great grand children. When talking about his grandchildren, Mr. Carpenter said, “Actually ten are ‘step,’ but I don’t call them that. I’m the only Pappaw they know. I treat them just like my own.”

Most might remember Mr. Carpenter from his six years at Wal-Mart. It was in 1995 that things changed for him. On his way home from work, he was attacked and beaten by some men. “They thought they was going to get a lot of money,” he said. “They thought they killed me. But I’m still here.”

He spent nine weeks in intensive care at Drew Memorial Hospital and at the University Hospital in Little Rock. He said his brain was damaged, and he had two seizures during that time. After being prescribed seizure medication that he still takes, he related that he has not had a seizure since that time.

After his recovery, he returned to Wal-Mart, but three years later, he was run over in the Wal-Mart parking lot. “He just didn’t see me,” said Mr. Carpenter about the incident. He never returned to work after that.

When asked several questions about his life, this is what he said:

  • What is one thing you like about living in Monticello? The people here. Good people.
  • How long have you been without a car? Pretty good while. 4-5 years, but I got my driver’s license.
  • Does your wife drive? She can drive. She don’t got no car. She doesn’t even have a driver’s license. All she and I got is a marriage license.
  • What you find up and down the streets of Monticello? Little bit of money. I have a shopping cart and bag to pick up cans.
  • How many bags of cans a week? 5-6 bags.
  • Where do you go to take a break? Exxon on Highway 278, Wal-Mart, Huddle House, and the lawn mower shop.
  • If you could tell today’s young people one piece of advice, what would it be? Be careful and stay out of trouble.

Mr. Carpenter was on his way to the car wash so he could look for change. He said, “If I had not got beat up or ran over, I would worked at Wal-Mart 14 years today and could have retired 3 years ago.”

Mr. Carpenter wanders his way through the streets of Monticello just about every day. He accepts rides when he’s without his shopping cart, and many people have bought quilts from him that his wife makes. If you’ve not seen him or stopped to chat, then you are missing one Monticello life.

AM Rental & Sales

AM Rental & Sales

City Drug

City Drug

UAM Trotter House B

UAM Trotter House

Union Bank 2

BCMC Family Care Clinic 2

Immanuel Baptist Church

Drew Farm

Baker’s Electrical

Baker's Supply

Monticello Animal Clinic

Monticello Animal Clinic

Burgess Process Service

Burgess Process Service

Malco Theater 2

Union Bank 1

H&P Solutions Septic System Service

H&P Solutions Septic System Service.


La Terraza


Be A Weevil

Mullis Insurance

Sammy Mullis Insurance

Citizen’s Bank 2

Citizen's Bank

Monticello Realty

Monticello Realty

Lucky’s Of Monticello

Bone’s Auto Parts

Bone's Auto Parts

Small Bites Pediatric Dentist

UAM Trotter House A

UAM Trotter House

South Arkansas Business Solutions

A.J. Huffman Graphic Design

Citizen’s Bank

Citizen's Bank

Searcy & Associates 2

Searcy & Associates

BCMC Family Care Clinic 1

H&P Solutions Septic System Service_B

H&P Solutions Septic System Service.

Majors Forest & Lawn 1

Malco Theater 1

Farm Bureau

KK Logistics

KK Logistics

Mr. Bug

Mr. Bug