City Council honors local baseball all-stars


Mayor Jason Akers called the July meeting of the Monticello City Council to order at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, June 25. After the roll call, it was found that all of the council members were present. Council member Clarissa Pace led the invocation, and Arabella Wood, Little Miss Pre-Teen Arkansas, led everyone in the Pledge of Allegiance. The minutes from May were approved, and Mayor Akers transitioned into new business.

In the first order of new business, Mayor Akers recognized the Monticello 6U, 8U, and 10U baseball all-star teams for their recent tournament successes. All three teams recently played in a tournament in Star City, where they all went undefeated. The 10U team was further recognized for going undefeated in a tournament in Conway, which made them the 10U State Champions. All three teams were presented with a Certificate of Recognition from the mayor.

“We are proud of all of you boys,” Mayor Akers said. “As a city, we want to recognize your achievements over the past month, not just in baseball, but all together. We are proud of the young men that you are and that you will be. I challenge myself and the council members to remember why we are up here and why we do this. It’s to make Monticello a better place for each one of these little faces.”

Dr. Jack Lassiter came before the council to make a presentation about a project that is in the works for the city. Mayor Akers stated that Dr. Lassiter had approached him several months ago, along with Jim Ross, to discuss Chester Johnson and some ideas he was working on. Johnson, who currently lives in New York, has ties to Monticello. Johnson was a large donor for the Elaine Massacre Monument in Phillips County and wants to donate to a project in Drew County that is specifically directed at racial reconciliation, showing how far Monticello has come, from an at times, dark past.

Dr. Lassiter, Ross, and Anthony Jackson formed a committee to discuss the project and try to determine what the monument would be.

“All of these men are some of the best people that I know,” Akers stated. “Their input and ideas were outstanding. We selected a story, after several ideas, about a Drew County deputy named William Dollar and a gentleman named Fed or Fred Reeves. Both men were murdered in the 1860s by a group of outlaws. Dollar was murdered because he, a white man, had multiple friends in the African-American community. Reeves was murdered because he was an associate of Dollar. Dollar refused to unfriend Reeves so they were both slain and put on display in the center of town as a “warning” to others.”

“This is a sad story, it isn’t happy,” Akers added. “But it’s real and it's a part of our history. This story also shows that change and equality, for all races, come at a cost. People of Drew County, of all races, have fought and died for one another throughout our history. That characteristic is what makes our community strong.”

The project will not cost the city anything, Johnson will donate the cost for the monument and a few maintenance items that will arise.

The monument itself will be a bench made of black Granite, weighing over 850 pounds. It will sit on a base that weighs an additional 300 pounds. B&S Monuments will build the bench in Camden headquarters. The front side of the bench will have a laser-engraved picture of the city square and old courthouse circa 1880. The back will have an excerpt of the Dollar/Reeves story, and there will be an antique street lamp lighting the monument.

“I applaud you all and I thank you for what you all are doing,” Clarissa Pace said. “When I became a city council member, I remember being in a Municipal League meeting where mayors from around 75 cities signed off on a racial reconciliation proclamation. In my mind, I thought if you are going to reconcile, it’s going to take more than a picture on social media, it’s more than a signature. It’s about taking action. I think this is a great, monumental moment for us as a city, and a county, and as a people.”

The council unanimously voted to move forward with the project.

Andrea Chambers gave an update on the Lead and Copper Line replacement which was discussed a few months ago. All of the city’s addresses have been entered into a GIS database. There is also work to build a website for water customers to log in and inventory the pipes inside their houses, and the type of service lines supplying their house.

The next item on the agenda was adopting a resolution authorizing the acceptance of grant funds to put a new roof on the historic post office. The Arkansas Historic Preservation Program approved the grant maximum of $59,492. This grant is a 2/3 grant so the city will be left to cover 1/3 of the cost.

The council then voted to amend the city’s Sewer Fund Budget to purchase an 84”x22’ Tri-Axel trailer for the Sewer Department. The amendment was for $7,000 and the total of the purchase was $14,102.88

A resolution declaring 352 and 354 N. Larkin Street was approved. City Code Enforcement Officer Brian Rodgers stated that he had made multiple attempts to contact the responsible party over the past several months.

The council also voted to enter into a contract with the Area Agency on Aging which works with the city’s Senior Citizen Center.

The council also passed a resolution dealing with change orders on the Scogin Drive project. There are water lines that need to be moved, they were missed due to engineering errors.

The council introduced an ordinance where Brian Smith, owner of Fired Up Pizza Co., was seeking the city’s approval to apply for a private club license through the Alcohol Beverage Control Board. He has the necessary non-profit, he just needs the council to approve him so that he may proceed.

After some discussion, the majority of the council members agreed that no emergency existed and that they would honor the legal process involved in passing an ordinance. The ordinance will be revisited in the July meeting.