Branch, McKiever selected Man, Woman of Year
Monday night was a star-studded, at least in terms of Monticello dignitaries, gala at the annual Monticello/Drew County Chamber of Commerce-Monticello Economic Development Commission banquet. Highlight awards were presented to the Man, Woman, Business and Industry of the Year.
Rev. Alford Branch, pastor of Holmes Chapel Presbyterian Church, was named Man of the Year. Community activist Charlotte McKiever was named Woman of the Year.
Mainline Health Systems, Inc. and Interfor Corporation were selected as the business and industry of the year, respectively. Other awards presented included:
• Drew County Farm Family of the Year—the Mike McGregor family
• Drew County Homestead Family of the Year—the Dwight Wells family
• Drew Central School District Teacher of the Year—Penny Vance
• Monticello School District Teacher of the Year—Terri Smith
• University of Arkansas at Monticello Teacher of the Year—Dr. Kate Stewart
Branch, who said he was totally surprised at his being recognized despite having many of his church members in attendance, was called “a real unsung hero” in his nomination form.
“The endless work that he does here in Drew County often goes unnoticed and unrecognized,” the person who nominated Branch wrote. “Year in and Year out, this man goes to the courts, to the jails and to the schools on behalf of our children. In addition, he has used his position as pastor of a local church to open the church doors and host adult education classes and a successful tutoring program to better help young students succeed.”
In her nomination form, it was noted “since her retirement, McKiever has been busier than ever, contributing much to the community. Several years ago, she brought to town the Shepherd’s Center, a program designed to promote healthy lifestyles for seniors to Monticello. Residents from the county and the city attend classes once a week for six weeks participating in and learning new activities.
“For the past 10 years, she has organized bus trips for those residents interested in traveling. This endeavor has grown so much in popularity, that not only Drew County residents travel, but people from all over the state are included. She spends countless hours to make sure these trips are fun for everyone.”
Mainline, who had its Grand Opening for its new facility just hours before the banquet Monday, was established in 1978 by a group of agricultural leaders in Portland who wanted access to healthcare for people in their community. Since then, Mainline has grown from the one location in Portland to six medical clinics, three dental clinics, and 10 school based health clinics in Southeast Arkansas.
In 2010, Mainline opened a clinic in Monticello. Since then, the Monticello clinic has expanded from two providers to multiple healthcare professionals across a wide scope and they have recently completed the construction of a new, 1,500 square foot facility, located on Jordan Drive.
Last year, Mainline won four national awards: The Clinical Quality Improvers Award, Health Center Quality Leaders Award, Enhancing Access to Care Award and Addressing Health Disparities Award.
And Interfor, a mill which produces southern pine lumber, acquired its Monticello Division in June 2015, recently announcing plans for a $46 million upgrade of its sawmill in the city.