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The Monett Times' top stories of 2010

Monday, January 3, 2011

Patrick Hanlon, senior project manager with the engineering firm of Packham Guyton Albers and Viets (PGAV) and project manager for Monett's DREAM project, showed design illustrations for ideas introduced in other towns as part of the DREAM process, during the December DREAM meeting in Monett. [Times Photo by Murray Bishoff]
Monett experienced natural disasters, innovation and recognition during the past year. Major achievements and significant events made up the top 10 stories of 2010.

1. DREAM designation. Monett was named as one of the state's DREAM (Downtown Revitalization and Economic Assistance for Missouri) communities in September on its third attempt. The Vision 2030 plan, developed with the assistance of Drury University and the University of Missouri Extension Service, provided a detailed framework for the city's application. Initial meetings with DREAM representatives have provided details on how the three-year program will proceed.

2. Major advances toward a new Monett Area YMCA building. With the announcement on March 15 that $6 million had been raised toward building a new YMCA building in Monett, the dream of a new Monett facility drew nearer. Additional private and corporate donations continued through the year. In December the former Jones/Kleiboeker house on the construction site was removed, clearing the way for construction to begin.

3. Tornado strike on May 13. On the morning of May 13, a funnel cloud skipped over the South Park hill, slammed directly into the Monett Pizza Hut, tore the roof off part of A-1 Rental and damaged the offices of Hydro Aluminum. Rebuilding is still underway at all three locations.

4. McDonald's fire, Jan. 9. A fire that broke out during equipment maintenance work in the attic of the Monett McDonald's restaurant spread too fast and burned too hot for firefighters to stop. The blaze destroyed the restaurant, a landmark in Monett since 1983, and left the community without one of its major social gathering points for most of the year. The fire was one of the most visible disasters of its kind, drawing afternoon crowds for hours. The reopening of the restaurant was a cause for celebration on Sept. 8.

5. Passage of the bond issue to renovate Monett Elementary School. Voters got behind a well-designed plan to enclosed the Monett Elementary School campus without raising taxes. The effort earned approval from 86 percent of the voters in April. The multi-phase project enabled the district to tap federal stimulus money for school construction and get a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant to build the first storm shelter on the west side of town. Progress on the construction will continue to be a major story in 2011.

6. Census estimate puts Monett over 8,000 for the first time. Preliminary reports from the 2010 federal census placed the Monett population at 8,829, the largest increase for any town in the bi-county area.The 19.4 percent growth was the largest percentage that Monett had seen since the rise between 1950 and 1960.

7. Settlements with cell phone companies. Civil suits resolving unpaid franchise taxes from cell phone providers paid off for the city of Monett. The city received more than $720,000 from cell phone companies during 2010. The settlement from five years of unpaid taxes offset the drop in sales tax revenue from the economic downturn, thanks to wording in the original 1951 ordinance arrangement calling for a 5 percent franchise fee for "all telephone and telephonic services."

8. Hiring of a downtown coordinator. A first-time collaboration between the Monett City Council, the Monett Downtown Betterment Group and the Monett Chamber of Commerce led to the hiring of the first downtown coordinator, DJ Miller, in July.

9. Community Kitchen opens. The start of the Community Kitchen introduces a greater outreach to economically stressed residents than has previously been attempted. Based at the First United Methodist Church, the Community Kitchen opened on Nov. 2, providing meals three days a week.

10. People changes. A number of significant changes occurred among the people who guide and shape the Monett community. These included:

* The retirement of Monett's first building inspector, George Rausch, after 20 years of service in April;

* The resignation of Greg Johnson as Cox Monett Hospital administrator after 10 years of service in October;

* The death of EFCO founder Terry Fuldner on Sept. 8;

* The retirement of Alan Spencer as Monett High School athletic director and head football coach in May, concluding a 35-year career, nine of which were with Monett. Daryl Bradley was named his successor;

* The retirement of Charles Brady as Monett Times sports editor after 30 years of service and coverage of 575 consecutive Cubs football games by Brady and his father, Dick Brady.

* The naming of Sharon Garrett as the Monett Chamber of Commerce's Community Service Award winner and Bob and Debbie Berger recipients of the chamber's Pride and Progress Award.

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