One Monticello Life: Mayor Allen MaxwellJanuary 3rd, 2011 by Mandy Moss
“I grew up in a different time than what kids today are. Living was foot-loose and fancy-free! You didn’t lock your doors, you left your windows open, you left your car unlocked. We kids would get together on our bikes early in the morning and ride all around town and we wouldn’t get back home until dark. I don’t think any of our parents ever knew where we were, but they knew we’d be back home.”
This is how Allen Maxwell described life growing up in Warren, AR with parents Allen and Ruby Maxwell, and his 4 brothers and 1 sister. He was born April 19, 1943 and enjoyed all that country living had to offer, especially hunting.
“I know I was very young when Dad first took me squirrel hunting, probably age 6. He’d take us to hunt ducks and quail, and I loved it.”
Mayor Maxwell spoke of how much freedom kids had back then to roam and play without fear, and how the one major injury he had as a child happened in his own backyard.
“When I was about 6 years old I was walking through the yard barefooted and stepped on a rattlesnake. It bit me and boy you would’ve thought the world had ended. Thankfully it was a little baby snake, and it wasn’t as big of a deal as you would think.”
Allen Maxwell attended schools in Warren, and that’s where he met Dana, now his wife of almost 50 years.
“She was my high school sweetheart. She was a cheerleader, voted most beautiful, homecoming queen, and all of that stuff. I wasn’t voted the most handsome!”
The two were married on October 12, 1961 in Little Rock. Allen was 18 years old and had just graduated from Warren High School. Dana had attended school in Little Rock but had moved to Warren to live with her grandmother when Little Rock Central was shut down.
Allen and Dana have two children, Paige and Al. They also have a 10 year old guardian son, Tommy. Paige is married to Tim Chase and they have two daughters, Summer, age 13, and Madisyn, age 11. They live here in Monticello. Their son, Al, is married to Leigh and they have one son named Pearson that is 7 years old. They live in Madison, WI. Tommy is on the honor roll at MIS and Mayor Maxwell said, “He’s a great singer, and also a great athlete. He does swim team, basketball, and did football for a bit. We’re going to the Sugar Bowl and he’s really excited about that. He has really enriched my life.”
Mayor Maxwell lit up speaking about his grandchildren, “You’ll see one day how wonderful being a grandparent is. You love your own kids, but you just really love your grandchildren. And all of my grandchildren are really wonderful. Summer and Madisyn are both so mature and respectful. I think Summer was born grown. My grandson, Pearson, turned out to be a genius and a super athlete. They really are wonderful.”
Allen’s working life began early with his first jobs: delivering the paper and working on a dairy farm.
“When I was in the 6th grade I delivered the Arkansas Gazette on my bike. I was sleepy all of the time. I delivered 90-something papers on my route. From there I worked on a dairy farm starting in 7th grade. We milked cows there, I did it until the 9th grade. It was tedious and I learned I didn’t want to deal with cows. I haven’t dealt with a cow since then, unless I want a steak!”
After high school Allen went to UAM to play football.
“I didn’t finish… we had children and I didn’t have any money left. I quit and went to Southwestern Bell. I stayed for 33 years and retired in 1991.”
While working at Southwestern Bell, Allen and his team developed a much more streamlined approach to solving problems in the phone lines.
“We had the highest complaint rate of probably anywhere in the nation, and no real efficient way to reach all of the customers each day. Calls were dispatched randomly, you might be on one side of town and when you got done with that repair they’d send you 20 minutes away to a different problem, when all along there were maybe 5 other issues in that same area. It just didn’t make sense.”
Maps and grids were developed through their team to better pinpoint where problems were, and where workers were during the day.
“We saved the company $10,000 a day in overtime once we got this system in place and our customers were much happier.”
They also created what is known as SCAN. They found a way to trick the testing computers into running two tests, instead of one. They found that 80% of their problems were occurring in only about 20% of places. This drastically improved the quality of service they could provide.
“AT&T thought we were lying about our cable trouble report rate. It went from 4 something down to .39. Now they have SCAN. The plant engineer fell out of his chair when he saw where we were doing and how we were faking out the computer to accomplish this task.”
After moving up the ladder over 33 years and retiring, Allen and Dana entertained the idea of moving to Florida.
“We thought about retiring there, so we went and stayed for about 2 weeks. I got very bored. I came back to Monticello because I thought it had the best economy of southeast Arkansas.”
Mayor Maxwell’s political career began in 1992 when Jay Dickey ran for Congress.
“I went to his fund raiser and I was impressed. I helped him in his first and second campaigns. Then around Christmas in 1994 he called me and asked if I’d go to work for him and I thought “you’ve gone crazy!” He asked me to be his district manager and it was an outstanding job… it was really a lot of fun. I was Chief of Staff for four years. I worked for him until he was defeated.”
From there Allen Maxwell went to work for Timberland and said he promised himself he’d never run for office.
“Jerry Taylor called and said I need to run for State Representative to take his spot. I decided to run, and no one else did so I got it. I ran unopposed for three terms. Then I decided to run for Mayor.”
Mayor Maxwell says that his experience managing people in different careers has taught him an important lesson. “When you fix the 5-10% of trouble-makers, the majority will follow. Most people want to work, and want to do a good job.”
MonticelloLive asked Mayor Maxwell what his immediate plans in office involve. He said, “Right now we have an issue with the city and the county operating completely separately instead of together. They’re not really cooperating right now, and I want us to.”
When asked if he has any plans to fire anyone, he stated, “I have no intentions of firing a single person. How would I know if anyone deserves to be dismissed right now? If I get in and see that someone deserves to be fired, then I’ll handle that then. But, right now, I don’t have enough information to make that decision.”
Mayor Maxwell has said that many people have come to him with what they feel is important in this city. The Mayor said that he believes Monticello needs a Civic Center and a year-round swimming pool. He also stated, “I want Drew County to be run so well that everyone in southeast Arkansas wants to come visit here at least a few times a month. Then, maybe they’ll decide they’d like to live here. For that to happen we have to be a city that creates jobs, and is investing in our youth. The youth is the future of this city, not people like me. I’m the past. We want our youth to want to stay here.”
Food – New York Strip with baked potato and veggies; Bradley Tomatoes
Restaurant – Olive Garden
Actor/Actress – John Wayne; Sandra Bulloch
Movie – Doctor Zhivago
TV Show – anything on Discovery or NatGeo
Book – Rising Tide by John M. Barry “It’s a lesson about politics, corruption in a few, how things can get done wrong and how they get done right. It’s also a great Arkansas history lesson.”
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