City Council honors Distinguished Citizen; passes multiple resolutions


The Monticello City Council held its monthly meeting at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, May 28. The meeting opened with an invocation and the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance. Deputy City Clerk, Kirsten Garrison called the roll and all council members except for Cedric Leonard were present. The council then approved the minutes from April’s meeting. With no unfinished business, Mayor Jason Akers transitioned into new business.

Diane Shelton, with the Martin Luther King Commission, informed the council that there was a special presentation and that she would be turning the floor over to Tiffany Pettis, Executive Assistant and Historian of the commission.

Pettis read a letter from Dr. Peggy Doss, Chancellor of the University of Arkansas at Monticello, which was written to Martin Luther King Commissioner and Monticello native Gerald Canada. Doss her letter to commemorate Canada winning the Martin Luther King State Award.

Kenya Eddings, Executive Director of the Arkansas Minority Health Commission, spoke about Canada next. Eddings said that she was there on behalf of the staff and Board of Directors. She stated that for two years Canada had been her boss when he was on the Minority Health Commission. She said that there were no words that she could express to do Canada justice. She found a poem to recite in his honor.

“One of the things that I think is vital in this community is not just celebrating the people who are here who have done good things, but the people who are from here, got their values here and took those values to other parts of our state and our nation and did great things there,” Mayor Akers said. “You have definitely done that, you exemplify that. On behalf of the City of Monticello we have drawn up this proclamation declaring you, Gerald Canada, a Distinguished Citizen of the City of Monticello, and we thank you for all that you’ve done.”

The next item on the agenda was passing a resolution accepting a bid from Forrest Electric Services for $58,396.33. This bid was to perform electrical work at Well No. 5 and Well No. 9.

There was an additional resolution passed about Well No. 9. This resolution approved $63,737.60 from Ideal Pump and Service to do repair work at Well No. 9. The resolution also amended the 2024 Water Fund Budget.

The council then passed a resolution authorizing the purchase of a new aerator motor and brackets for the East Sewer Plant. The resolution would also amend the 2024 Sewer Fund Budget and do away with the bid requirements. The motor would be purchased from Ouachita Electric Services out of West Monroe, La. For $27,068.30. The amendment to the budget totaled $30,000.

The next item was a resolution amending the City of Monticello Sewer Fund Budget for 2024 and amending the 1998 One Cent Sales Tax Fund Budget for 2024. These amendments are due to the completion of work at the East Sewer Plant. These expenses are eligible for a 75 percent reimbursement from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

The council also passed a resolution accepting the bid on the audit of Enterprise Funds (water, sewer, and solid waste). The council accepted the bid from Searcy & Associates, LLC. For $14,000.

The next resolution passed authorized the mayor to trade in four old city vehicles for an amount not less than $10,000. These funds would go towards the purchase of two 2024 Dodge Durangos from Ryburn Motor Company totaling $38,840. These vehicles will be used by the Monticello Police Department.

The council also passed a resolution authorizing Monticello Police Chief Carlos Garcia to apply for a $25,600 grant from the Bureau of Justice Assistance: Rural and Small Department Violent Crime Reduction Program. This grant would pay for equipment and software used to track stolen vehicles or vehicles involved in crimes by scanning license plates.

The council passed a resolution accepting a bid of $55,125 from the Glendale Fire Department to purchase the city’s 1999 E-One Pumper which was recently replaced.

The council also passed a resolution allowing certain CDs to be liquidated to purchase needed equipment for the city’s 2024 fire truck. The amount approved was $22,500 and will go towards the purchase of hoses, axes, radios, and other needed equipment.

The council passed a resolution expressing the willingness of the City of Monticello to utilize Federal Aid Transportation Alternatives Program or Recreational Trails Program funds. These funds would be used to complete the sidewalk project at the Monticello Sports Complex.

The council passed a resolution declaring 550 S. Bell St. a nuisance. City Code Enforcement Officer Brian Rodgers said that he had not been contacted by the property owner since he reached out in February. The council also approved placing liens on 444 E. Godbold and 554 S. Gabbert for failure to pay for services provided by the city.

The council passed and enacted emergency claused on three ordinances as well. These ordinances would immediately implement attendance requirements for commissioners on the Planning, Parks & Recreation, and Advertising and Promotions commissions. Commissioners will be required to attend no less than 75 percent of regular or special meetings unless excused by the chairperson. If they fail to meet this requirement, they will be brought up to the mayor to be replaced.

Brian Smith, owner of the Prescription Pad and Fired Up Pizza Co., addressed the council and encouraged them to continue making positive changes for the city. One such change that he mentioned was leaving antiquated and outdated thinking in the past and finally encouraging citizens to resolve the wet/dry town issue.

“We have a marijuana dispensary on Highway 425,” Smith said. “Yet we have to jump through hoops to serve alcohol.”

“The current status of the wet/dry issue doesn’t encourage growth for our city,” Smith added. “The fact that only certain establishments can serve alcohol while others can’t creates an unfair advantage. Not to mention the national chains that won’t come here as long as we stay dry.”

Mayor Akers closed out the meeting with a few comments. He was proud to announce that city crews just finished working on the largest drainage project in Monticello history, the Godfrey Ditch project. Crews have also completed work on the West Plant Aerator Project. Plumbing repairs at City Hall have been completed as well. Mayor Akers also commended city crews for getting Lake Monticello back in great shape and announced that the lake would be fully opened at 8 a.m. Friday, May 31.