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“She only eats at school.”

January 3rd, 2012 by

Grant presented by Delta Kappa Gamma


Delta Kappa Gamma recently awarded a grant of $500 in support of Feed the Kids weekend snack bags. The Extension Homemakers also contributed the proceeds from their winter fundraiser and the Shepherd Center gave a portion of their fall session registration to support the project. Feed the Kids is funded strictly through donations with some assistance from Rice Depot and a few grants. The group is awaiting final determination from the IRS to become a 501c3 entity.

Bags prepared for students.

Feed the Kids is a snack pack weekend feeding program active in Monticello and Drew Central Schools. The mission originally started by the Presbyterian Women of First Presbyterian Church has grown in the past five years from an experiment with six children to more than 150 children in both school districts. Children in Pre-K through 8th grade are identified by counselors, teachers, other school personnel, and sometimes even the children themselves as needing additional food.

beanie weenies to be distributed

The cost of each snack bag is about $6.00 and contains enough food to supplement a hungry child over the weekend. Clean-up bags are sent home on a quarterly basis and contain soap, shampoo, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and seasonal items like socks, hats, and gloves. The cost to provide the bags has grown to over $2,000 per month.

Volunteers from the Methodist Youth Group, Second Baptist Church ladies’ mission group, Vera Lloyd Achievement Club, and individual community members pack and deliver the bags. The bags are packed the first Wednesday of each month at 6 p.m. during the school year at the Fellowship Hall of First Presbyterian Church. For more information, to volunteer, or to donate to Feed the Kids, contact Louisa Smith, Chair 367-7439 or Allison Collins, Vice Chair 367-2987

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2011 Headlines – The Top 40 Stories of the Year

January 2nd, 2012 by

2011 brought with it many headlines that affected our lives.   Some simply stirred our interest, while others changed the way we live.

MonticelloLive is posting the top 40 headlines of 2011, based on pageviews, video plays, and amount of public conversation that the stories inspired.

While we are reminiscing, here are links to the 2009 Headlines and the 2010 Headlines- The Year in Review.

New Year’s Eve Police Report – 1 Wreck, 5 DWI Arrests

January 1st, 2012 by

At least a dozen law enforcement officers were on patrol on New Year’s Eve, representing MPD, DCSO, and State Troopers, which may have been enough to convince some “celebrators” to “let somebody else drive.”

But that wasn’t the case for everyone, with 5 Drew County arrests being made on potential DWI charges, after the festivities ended well after midnight.

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City Council Votes to Build New Fire Station at W.C. Whaley Property —– “Top Headline of 2011”

December 30th, 2011 by

In a shocking turn of events, the City Council voted yes to building a new fire station on the W.C. Whaley lot. During Thursday night’s meeting Mayor Allen Maxwell asked MEDC Executive Director Nita McDaniel to present the slide show to the Council that was shown to the public during the ISO Rating Meeting (posted below).

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“2011’s Top Stories” – Special Edition- “And One to GROW On”

December 30th, 2011 by

The Local Economy

2011 brought with it many changes in Monticello’s business climate.  In August, SeaArk Marine announced their closing as of this month (SeaArk Boats remains unaffected by this change).  Last month, Drew County Speedway told of their operations ceasing, as well.  Larry’a Pizza, Topps Pizza, and other businesses closed during the year.

Even while experiencing the loss of several employers, and several dozen jobs, Monticello still remains one of the “brighter” spots in southeast Arkansas, based on the number of businesses that either started, expanded, hired more workers, were purchased by new owners, or added important equipment.  Each of these entities showed a commitment to their employees, and their intentions to remain a part of Monticello’s future.

Those  75   businesses, industries, and organizations include…..
(Hold mouse over image to view business identity)

2. (Tie) DCHS Principal Steve Noble Arrested

December 28th, 2011 by

Drew Central High School Principal Steve Noble was arrested at his home on December 8, 2011. Charges were filed after detectives from Phoenix, Arizona Police Department posed as a 14 year old girl in a chat room and Noble allegedly asked the “girl” if she wanted to “watch him.” The same chat room had led the detectives to identify other sexual predators previously.

Search warrants of Noble’s home and office were executed where items listed to cease were computers, hard drives, jump drives, digital cameras, camcorders, cds and dvds. A warrant also allowed his iPhone to be taken and searched.

Noble is currently out on bond and faces possible extradition to Phoenix.

This was the 2nd leading pageview story in 2011.

2. (Tie) Michael Binns’ Conviction and Death – Autopsy Update

December 28th, 2011 by

Though the tragic case against Michael Binns came to light in November of 2010, it is a story that shook nearly all of 2011 for Monticello.

Binns was arrested and charged on 2 counts of rape, the victims being 16 and 18 year old males and later charges also included two counts of introducing a controlled substance, without the knowledge of the victim, for the purpose of engaging in an unlawful sexual act.

After a two-day jury trial, Michael Binns, Sr., former MHS and MJHS choir director, was found guilty of two counts of 2nd degree sexual assault and one count of introduction of a controlled substance. He was sentenced to twenty years each on the second degree assault convictions and five years for the introduction of a controlled substance, for a total of 45 years.

After his conviction on July 14, 2011 Binns went to the Drew County Detention Facility until July 20, when he was then transported to Baptist Hospital in Little Rock. He returned to the CDF on the 21st and was sent to the Arkansas Department of Corrections on July 22nd. He then passed away on July 31, after being treated at JRMC in Pine Bluff for seizures.

A spokesperson for he department of correction confirmed in late December that Binns” cause of death has been determined by the State Crime Lab to be a “pulmonary embolism, complicated by a seizure disorder.”  They were unable to determine the cause of the embolism. 

Binns’ arrest in November, 2011 was that year’s leading pageviews story.  The updated coverage of his July trial day, was the leading pageview day for 2012.  This shows the impact that this case had on the community.

Arkansas Teacher of the Year – MHS’ Kimberly Wilson – One Monticello Life

December 28th, 2011 by

On December 2, Governor Beebe came to Monticello to present Kimberly Wilson, visual art teacher at MHS the award for being Arkansas’Teacher of the Year.

“You aren’t much of a person if you can’t understand the finer things in life… you’ve done that with our kids… you deserve Teacher of the Year,” Governor Beebe told Mrs. Wilson.

After hugging her children and her husband, accepting her roses and her large check to represent her financial award of $15,000 (from the Walton Family Foundation) Mrs. Wilson said, “I want to thank you… thank you. It humbles me.” “First, I’m privileged to be part of a fantastic school district.” “The other half… here’s what makes the difference… it’s your [students’] effort that makes it all work.”

Mrs. Wilson then said to the 4th and 5th grade students present, “You made me a great teacher; you made this possible.”

In closing Mrs. Wilson said, “Thank you to my family, my 2 children are here. They spend a lot of hours in the classroom.” “I could not do it if I did not have a fantastic, loving, supporting husband.” “I would like to thank my Principals..” She went on to describe how they never tell her no when she comes to them with her “crazy” ideas.


Kimberly Kaye Wilson – One Monticello Life

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5. Airport Awards & News

December 28th, 2011 by

2011 was definitely “the” year for Monticello’s airport, Ellis Field. Numerous improvements have been made, and well deserved honors and awards have been given to the airport over the past year.

A few of the impressive improvements the airport has seen over the past 12 months include moving the fuel pump from their old office building to the new one, and resealing of the runway pavement.

A new office building and hangar is under construction, thanks to hard work by aiport commission chairman Bennie Ryburn III in applying for grants, to be leased to EFS Geo-Technologies, the MEDC / Chamber of Commerce Industry of the Year.  This will provide long-term income to the airport, to help achieve it’s goal of being self sufficient.

Ellis Field had National recognition when Bob Worthington, writer for Fly Low magazine, wrote about his experience with the airport and its staff. His story of how the staff pulled together to provide him with transportation, when he was stuck due to weather, and being there to help problem solve was but one example of the prime service Ellis Field Airport provides to each of its customers.Benji Ryburn, Airport Commissioner, accepted the Outstanding Airport Award on behalf of the airport from the FAA. Monticello’s Airport was also given the honor of being chosen as Arkansas Airport of the Year in 2011. This was the second time the airport had received the award, the first time being in 2008.

Ellis Field definitely made news, and made Monticello quite proud in 2011.

9. Sadie Johnson Building

December 28th, 2011 by

October of 2010 brought the tragic news of the loss of the Sadie Johnson Building. A fire completely destroyed the well-loved and much used structure.

Bids were taken to see how much it would take to rebuild, and with the lowest bid coming in at a grand total of $757,900 (including the 10% engineering fee), the Parks and Recreation Commission would be left with a budget deficit of -$256,876 if they accepted.

The Commission voted to accept the low bid, and ask the City Council for more funding. With the City being projected as over budget for the 2012 year if the Sadie Johnson Building funding does occur, there has been no official vote yet on if they will grant the money to Parks and Recreation.


“Tour of Monticello” Continues – Part 20

December 28th, 2011 by

By popular request we’ll continue our tour of Monticello’s Main Street by looking at the history of South Main Street. Let’s start of the corner of South Main and Gaines Streets and continue south. This corner spot has a colorful history that is still changing today. An old photograph made in the 1880s shows a two-story wooden building sitting there. This structure housed R. C. Bennett’s saloon on the ground floor; the second floor held a poker room.

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13a. Crime

December 27th, 2011 by

From December of 2010 until January of 2011, local churches were suffering from unknown suspects breaking in and stealing from them. The count reached seven churches before the 20 year old suspect was apprehended.

Freddie Campbell, Jr. of Monticello plead guilty to six counts of commercial burglary and three counts of theft of property. He was sentenced to 24 months in Delta Regional Punishment Facility, with 96 months suspended, and ordered to pay over $6,000 in restitution.


Katlin Lidge, 25 years old, of Monticello, was shot and killed at a local apartment complex in Monticello in March of 2011. The prime suspect, Nicholas Nix, fled to Salt Lake City, Utah after the incident, and turned himself in a few days later. Arkansas State Police and Monticello Police Department drove to Utah and brought him back to face charges.

Nix has since been tried twice, both trials resulted in hung juries. He is scheduled to be retried for the third time in March of 2012.


One September Sunday morning around 12:30, a call came into MPD, reporting a stabbing on Davis Street.

Michael Ray Danzy, age 42 of Monticello, reportedly a family member of victim, was arrested by police, shortly after the crime.

The victim, Tony McCarney, age 48, of Pine Bluff, was transported to Drew Memorial by personal vehicle, and died in the emergency room, of laceration to the neck.

Danzy was charged with first degree murder. during his bond hearing in front of Circuit Judge Kenny Johnson.  Danzy also faced on a probation revocation hearing filed in Chicot County.

A state police special agent told the court that Danzy said McCarney hit him, before he used the knife.: but continued of the 3 witnesses who saw altercation, “No one saw Mr. McCarney strike Mr. Danzy.”


Numerous break-ins and armed robberies of Monticello businesses occurred over the past 12 months.

Western Sizzlin was broken into twice in one week. Other businesses hit included Pizza Hut, Sonic, EZ Mart (numerous times), Piggly Wiggly, Topps Pizza, Crackerbox North, and the Tobacco Superstore.


20. MonticelloLive Earns “Business of the Year” Award (not because it was MLive, but because it was possible)

December 27th, 2011 by

The fact that MonticelloLive was recognized as the Chamber of Commerces’s “Business of the Year” was an honor, but the reason that this headline made the Top 20 list, is because this achievement was possible.

With the economy being a national topic, and the public impression being that most new businesses fail, this award proves that a new business (in operation only 4 years), with a dedicated owner, a small support staff, and big dreams, can still “keep your feet on the ground, and keep reaching for the stars”, as Casey Kasey used to say.

MLive has had 2.7 million page views in the past 12 months, and over 30,000 video plays of local news and events. 

Several of it’s stories and videos have been picked up and aired by all 4 Little Rock television stations. 

MLive has also been included in articles in Arkansas Business and Arkansas Times, but owner Joe Burgess considers it’s most prized achievement to be the “Business of the Year” award.

28. Everybody Loves a Parade

December 27th, 2011 by

Although a parade may not be considered a “news story” the 2011 Drew County Fair Parade was the 7th most watched video of the year, with the Chamber of Commerce’s “Carols of Christmas” Parade coming in at #11.

Tillar’s 2nd annual Christmas parade also earned an impressive view level.

Note: An “engaging” event that occurred at the Christmas parade, which earned statewide news coverage, will rank higher in the “Top 40 Stories”.

30. Chicot & Desha County River Flood Warnings

December 27th, 2011 by

The top story for the month of May was the Mississippi and Arkansas River Flood Warning, that covered Chicot and Desha Counties.

There was no regular online daily coverage of the event, so MonticelloLive stepped in, with total co-operation of the county judges and emergency personnel in both counties, to provide daily updates on the river levees and the battle to keep residents and property safe.

These two videos were viewed a combined total of 1600 times.

33. Arkansas Weather

December 27th, 2011 by

Arkansas Weather held true to it’s reputation. If you don’t like it, wait for tomorrow and it will change.

2011 brought with it a drought and long burn ban, and weeks of rain.  Many trees fell, some because of thunderstorms and strong winds, some not.

This video of February’s snow reveived over 500 viewings.

Kellie Moore Performs In The 2011 Walt Disney World Christmas Parade

December 24th, 2011 by

Kellie Moore, a sophomore at Drew Central High School, performed in the 2011 Walt Disney World Christmas Day Parade, which aired on ABC nationwide. Kellie performedwith the National Cheerleading Association. She qualified for this by being chosen as an NCA All Star Cheerleader at cheer camp last summer.

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MonticelloLive Gives Back at Christmas

December 24th, 2011 by

In sharing the Christmas spirit, donated the toys shown here to 3 worth programs.

One group went to the Ryburn Motor Company sleigh, which are distributed by the Junior Auxiliary.

Another group went to Cablevision’s Toys for Tots program, which will find good homes for the goodies, through the assistance of DHS.

The final third of the Christmas toys was delivered to the Baptist Home for Children.

All items donated will remain in Drew County, and bring joy to our local childrem.

“Surprise Proposal at Christmas Parade” Video Gets 2,100+ Plays – Featured on Fox 16 News

December 24th, 2011 by

Jay Dyson, of Monticello, invited his girlfried to watch the Christmas Parade, Tuesday night, at the Monticello Town Square.

Meagan Wilson, of Longview, TX, a senior at UAMonticello, was surprised when Jay “won” the chance to introduce the 4 guest judges.

Meagan was even more surprised when Jay proposed to her in front of the hundreds of onlookers, there for the parade.

She said “yes.”

We think events like this only happen at big league baseball games and in jewelry commercial, but having it take place at the Monticello Square, and on MLive video, was truly a unique event.  

The video of them shairng that special event has been viewed over 1,600 times, and was featurede on FOX16 news, Wednesday night. 


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