A&P Commission gets a new resource for event center


The Monticello Advertising and Promotions Commission held their August meeting on Tuesday, September 5, in the conference room at the Hampton Inn.  There was a good attendance, and only Al Peer and Andy Patel were not present. Once the meeting was called to order, the minutes and financial report for July were reviewed and approved.

The commission voted to pay three invoices. The first was for $123 to Old Republic Surety Group for the bonding associated with the commission. The second invoice was payable to Arkansas Delta Byways in the amount of $3,862.50 to pay for the ads in the Arkansas Cycling Guide and the Arkansas Travelers Guide. The final invoice was for $19,000 and was to pay the final year of a three year contract with Southern Magnolia Landscaping for Christmas lights. The commission moved to pay the 50 percent deposit and pay the remainder after the event is complete.

The commission also discussed the solar eclipse that is expected to take place in April 2024.  Shannon Herman said that Nita McDaniel, Director of the Monticello Economic Development Commission, had been in contact with the Arkansas Board of Tourism, and is expecting quite a bit of overnight traffic in Monticello whenever the eclipse occurs. McDaniel said she would like to hold a public meeting to discuss the event with the citizens of Monticello.

Ron Echols appeared before the commission representing a committee of Monticello residents who are looking to assist in getting an event center funded and built in town. Echols stated that an editorial written by the Advance’s General Manager, Ashley Hogg, got a lot of people talking about the need for such a center. Echols also noted that it had been eight years since the last time this proposal was brought before the citizens, and it was the first time in recent memory that a sales tax proposal had failed to pass.

The mayor and county judge compiled a list of people whom they thought would be able to begin working on this project from ground zero. One of the first topics was that the event center does not need to be built on university property. According to Echols, this was one of the reasons the previous center didn’t get approved. This time around, there will need to be a lot of community and citizen involvement as well.

Echols said that the committee is already planning to tour facilities in other towns to get ideas of what could work for Monticello, and what will not work as well. The committee has already lined up a tour in Bentonville and is reaching out to others. Echols asked the A&P Commission for financial support in the way of travel expenses to make these trips. The commission approved $3,000 in travel expenses.

“We are not trying to take over or usurp, but we want to act as an addition resource for this commission,” Echols said.

Echols discussed that once the committee and the commission have an idea of what will be best for Monticello, it will be important to contact an engineering firm and have them make a rendering that can be shown to the public.

Echols also noted that in the 1970’s there were plans for a cultural center, but nothing ever became of it.

“It is time to make this happen,” Echols said. “If they found this important 45 years ago, we need to make it happen.”

The final item covered in the meeting was the approval of the commission’s 2024 budget.