City Council improves meetings; two departments affected by COVID-19

The Monticello City Council upgraded

their technology for the Tuesday, July

28, regularly scheduled board meeting in

the Sadie Johnson Building with the room

equipped with microphones for each member

and speakers so members of the public

could better hear and understand what was

being discussed during the meeting.

The new setup saw the council spread

out, as it has been since resuming in-face

meetings. The public area had less chairs,

spaced farther apart than before. With the

new equipment the meeting ran smoothly.

Bettina Randolph with the Boys and

Girls club was unable to attend but sent a

report to Mayor Paige Chase. According

to Chase, Randolph reported staff were

gearing up for the reopening of the club

in August for the delayed school start. In

the meantime, staff is busy reconfi guring

rooms and attending seminars in or to learn

what safety rules need to be followed so

the staff can adhere to the new COVID-19

safety rules and keep the kids attending as

safe as possible.

Monticello planning commission chair

Dan Boice next addressed the council,

announcing the commission had received

Fire Marshal Kyle Berryman’s monthly

report of receipts from permits and inspections.

“Council members will note that almost

half of the receipts for 2019 came in December

after City Council had approved a

number of ordinances relating to permits

and inspections,” Boice reported. “The

receipts for the fi rst half of 2020 exceed

those for all of 2019.”

The total for 2019 was $13,942.40 with

the total for the fi rst half of 2020 adding up

to $14,112.86. The roofi ng ordinance permit

fees have not been added to the total

as of yet.

Pam McEowen reminded the council

in her report that the Senior Center has

been closed due to COVID-19 except

for curbside pick-up for lunch. The lunch

menu is printed weekly in the advance

(look on page 3A). Lunch is $2 for those

60 and over and $4 for those under $60.

Chase told the council she had picked up

lunch from the senior center that day and

encouraged people to support the center by

ordering a full meal for $4.

McEowen also reminded the council

that with the closure the center has not

been able to participate or hold their regular

fundraising, missing out on fundraisers

such as the Walk-a-thon and the sales

held for children. Currently, the Center is

still selling raffl e tickets for the quilt raffl

e. This quilt, which is made by the same

group who has made quilts for 40 years,

will be the last quilt the group will raffl e

for the Senior Center. The drawing will be

held Friday, July 31.

The Senior Center also has masks available

with a suggested donation price.

Nita McDaniel, Monticello Economic

Development Commission, announced

the commission was meeting by Zoom

with a potential business and had two other

projects she is currently working on. According

to McDaniel, they are very excited

about the prospects with one moving very

fast, another moving pretty quickly and

one moving slower.

With the COVID-19 and coronavirus,

the retail market is taking a hit, according

to McDaniel. One of the things the commission

is working on is to update retail

trade area on the website. McDaniel said

some closures are going to be expected as

the pandemic continues.

McDaniel reported there are still funds

available for loads through the MEDC for

businesses.

A pause in work for the parks department

due to COVID-19 until Tuesday

Aug. 4, has led to public works doing its

best to pick up the extra work, according to

Chase. In his report to the council, Charlie

Hammock, with the public works department

reported the public works night crew

was up again and working after the crew

was also affected by the COVID-19 virus.

The crews are fi xing leaks, patching up pot

holes, while also continuing to smoke the

sewage system, a project that can not be

completed when it is wet.

According to Michael James, city council

alderman, the skate park is ready to be

completed but the city is waiting on volunteers

who will assemble, weld and paint

the ramps. While the city has to wait for

volunteers to fi nd the time to work on the

skate park, James is confi dent it will be

completed. Chase reminded the members

of the council the Disc Golf course was still

a go. The bike trail team is still working on

getting donations to match the grant, anyone

who wants to donate can contact City

Hall or donate to the groups Go Fund Me

account. The Disc Golf course also has to

match grant funds.

Arkansas Game and Fish worked on the

lake bed fi sh habitat this week, building

100 porcupine structures out of wooden

pallets. According to Chase, the structures

use wooden pallets and the city has 300

wooden pallets now but will accept any

donations of wooden pallets. If anyone has

wooden pallets, the city will come pick

them up. Call City Hall to donate.

On the levy, the engineering fi rm, Atoka,

does not believe the berm is the problem.

Instead, the fi rm believes the city

didn’t take the crest far enough down in

the last attempt to repair the levy.

U.S. Highway 278 and Gaines are

currently being redone by the Arkansas

Department of Transportation, once that

project is complete they will be moving to

Pope Street.

Resolutions passed

• Resolution for Airport CARES Act

Grant - The grant will fi nance a portion of

drainage improvements around the Monticello

Municipal Airport

• Resolution for acceptance of Arkansas

State Aeronautics - The grant will pay 90%

of the cost of the drainage improvements

at the airport. The estimated costs of the

improvements are $95,000

• Resolution to accept changing prices

of timber harvested from the lake. The

price of Pine Pulpwood and Hardwood

Pulpwood has decreased on the market

due to COVID-19. The price of Pine Pulpwood

has dropped from $5.15 per ton to

$3.50 per ton. Hardwood pulpwood has

lowered from $12.50 to $7. The council

had three options:

1. do nothing and let contract expire

2. do nothing and extend the contract for

another year to see what prices do

3. accept price changes and move ahead.

• Resolution for record retention and

destruction policy for Monticello

A public meeting will be held Tuesday,

Aug. 25 at 5:45 before the next regularly

scheduled meeting at 6 p.m. in the Sadie

Johnson Building. The meeting will be

about the closing of a platted street.

The Advance-Monticellonian

Mailing Address:
PO Box 486
Monticello, AR 71657

Street Address:
314 Main Street
Monticello, AR 71655

Phone: 870-367-5325
www.mymonticellonews.net

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